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Kuwait lifts visa ban on Filipinos

Philippine envoy welcomes deal • Joint committee to address labor issues

By B Izzak & Passant Hisham

KUWAIT: Kuwait announced on Monday that it has lifted a ban on issuing all types of visas to Filipinos and also allowed the recruitment of domestic helpers with work experience, officially ending a row between the two countries, an official statement said. The agreement came during a meeting held Sunday between Kuwait’s Deputy Premier, Defense and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah and visiting Philippine Deputy Minister of Migrant Labor Bernard Olalia.

The interior ministry statement said that it was agreed to lift the ban imposed by Kuwait and allow the issuance of all entry and work visas for Filipino nationals, in addition to allowing the recruitment of Filipino domestic workers with overseas work experience. “The two sides agreed to establish a joint technical working committee consisting of competent authorities from the two countries to meet periodically to address employment-related issues and other concerns that may arise in the future,” the interior ministry statement said.

The two sides also reiterated their commitment to the domestic workers’ employment agreement signed between the two countries in 2018 which granted more protection to Filipino domestic workers, following a similar row that began with

the discovery of the remains of a murdered Filipina maid in her employers’ freezer.

Ambassador of the Philippines to Kuwait Ambassador Jose A Cabrera III told Kuwait Times the Philippine Embassy welcomes the lifting of the visa ban on Filipino citizens and the return of Filipino workers to Kuwait. “The embassy looks forward to the enhancement of the bilateral relationship between the two friendly countries with forthcoming meetings and discussions that will take up and address the outstanding labor issues and concerns to the satisfaction of both parties and to the mutual benefit of workers and employers,” he added.

In 2020, the Philippines reimposed a ban on its citizens going to work in Kuwait after a Filipina was allegedly killed by her employer. In May last year, Kuwait imposed a total ban on the recruitment of workers from the Philippines and also banned the issuance of all types of visas to Filipinos following another row between the two countries over the murder of a Filipina housemaid.

In February last year, the Philippines imposed a ban on deploying first-time domestic workers to Kuwait in protest against the gruesome murder of 26-year-old Jullebee Ranara after her body was found burnt in the desert. She was also found to be pregnant. Authorities arrested the then 17-year-old son of her employer, who was later sentenced to 16 years in jail because he was a minor.

When issuing the ban, Kuwaiti authorities insisted that the embassy of the Philippines breached its diplomatic status by interfering in domestic issues related to domestic workers. There are around 270,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, many of them working as domestic helpers.

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