BI guarding airports, ports to enforce OFW deployment ban to Kuwait

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 13) - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is keeping a close watch on the airports and seaports around the country, to enforce the total ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente on Tuesday said he has already directed the bureau's port operations division chief Marc Red Mariñas to immediately implement the ban by conducting stricter immigration checks and preventing all OFWs bound for Kuwait from leaving.

"We shall implement this deployment ban to the letter and immigration personnel who connive with the escort syndicates will be dealt with severely," the BI chief said in a statement.

He said rigid inspection is being conducted to thwart any attempts by illegal recruiters to dodge the ban and facilitate the exit of Kuwaiti-bound OFWs through the "notorious escort racket" at the airport.

The government on Monday signed the administrative order to completely ban the deployment of all workers to Kuwait, following the series of deaths of Filipino housemaids including Joanna Demafelis, who was recently found dead in a freezer.

Mariñas said all OFWs returning to Kuwait will be barred from leaving.

"All Immigration officers had been directed to prevent the departure of all OFWs bound for Kuwait," he said.

The order to ban OFW deployment to Kuwait comes after authorities discovered the body of a Filipina inside the freezer of her employers in Kuwait, and amid the investigation on seven Filipino household workers killed in Kuwait.

Help for OFWs

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday assured repatriated Filipino workers from Kuwait that the government will attend to their employment needs.

He said those who voluntarily repatriated would receive P5,000 worth of immediate financial assistance, in addition to the P20,000 livelihood aid from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Over 800 workers from Kuwait are expected to be home by the end of the week.

Aside from this, Roque also said Duterte's trip to Kuwait will be put on hold.

The spokesperson said the government is waiting for the Kuwaiti government to discuss the plight of OFWs in the country.

He said under international law, the Kuwaiti government is obliged to give justice to the Filipinos abused by their employers in Kuwait.