THE Commission on Filipinos Overseas strongly condemns the racist and derogatory remarks made by Kuwaiti social media blogger Sondos Al-Qattan against our Overseas Filipino Workers in Kuwait and the recently signed bilateral agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait on the protection of the rights and welfare of our OFWs.
The Philippines and Kuwait signed a bilateral pact on the Employment of Filipino Domestic Workers in 2018. The agreement which covers all household service workers and skilled workers deployed in the Gulf state, has salient features that include:
- Employers must provide Filipino workers with food, housing, and clothing, and register them in the health insurance system;
- Employers cannot confiscate the passports and other travel documents of Filipino workers;
- Employers who have records of contract violations or abuse will be disqualified from recruiting workers, among others.
A new labor law in Kuwait protecting our migrant workers, was also passed to enforce this agreement.
Our OFWs are workers, not slaves. Foreign employers should ensure that the OFWs‘ dignity is honored and their rights as human beings are upheld and respected at all times. They play an integral role in the attainment of “Decent Work,” which is the common aspiration of people in their working lives. According to the International Labor Organization, decent work involves rights at work, security in the workplace and social protection, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom to express their concerns, and equality of opportunity and treatment for all men and women. Goal 8 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for the promotion of sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work.
Our overseas Filipinos, our bagong bayani, are hardworking, caring and dedicated workers, determined to work their hearts out in order to send their children to school, and give their families a decent and more comfortable lives in the Philippines. Most of them have to endure being away from their family and loved ones, and even have to suffer the social costs of migration.
If Ms. Al-Qattan remains unapologetic and will not retract her statement against our OFWs, she should be blacklisted and included in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s list of undesirable foreign employers, for promoting modern slavery and disrespecting the bilateral agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait.
We also take this opportunity to laud several international beauty brands, which decided to cut ties with Ms. Al-Qattan, and showed how they support upholding the dignity and rights of workers.
The CFO is a staunch advocate for the protection and rights of all migrant workers. We strongly support that decent working conditions should be provided to everyone, including our more than 10 million overseas Filipinos.
- USEC. ASTRAVEL PIMENTEL-NAIK, Executive Director