Press Release
September 29, 2013

Jinggoy to PNoy: 'Protect Filipinas in Kuwait; hear deployment halt calls'

President Benigno Aquino III must beef up protection for Filipinas hired as household service workers (HSWs) in Kuwait amid the growing calls to suspend their deployment in that country due to rising incidents of rape and other abuses against them.

This was aired by Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada as he expressed alarm over the situation, noting some of the reported cases such as:

- "Teresa," 40 years old, from Davao City, raped repeatedly by Kuwaiti employer and his three sons in Jahra City in 2012;
- "Mely," raped four times by employer in Mishref District (2012);
- "E.S.," 34, from Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, repeatedly beaten by employer with wooden sticks and metal rods (2012);
- "Marissa," 27 year-old from T'Boli, South Cotabato, raped and stabbed several times by a Kuwaiti policeman in South Surra (2012); and
- Adelyn Sumin-ao, from Kibawe, Bukidnon, beaten by employer resulting to her death (2011).

Estrada, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment and Human Resources Development, lamented, "The incidents of rape and other forms of abuse against Filipina HSWs in Kuwait continue to pile up, and these are only some of those reported. I believe there are many more of such instances, though not reported and documented."

"Worse, our kababayans in Kuwait feel that the Philippine government is not implementing concrete and effective measures to prevent and stop these assaults, thus, their calls for a moratorium on deployment of HSWs to that country," he added.

The senator cited the petition for the moratorium signed by at least 10,000 OFWs and submitted to the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait. The group Mga Oragon sa Kuwait which spearheaded the petition said the moratorium should be imposed and maintained until and unless the HSWs' safety and welfare shall have been guaranteed.

Noting the disappointment of those bringing their problems to the Embassy's attention, the group also mentioned in the petition the "sex-for-flight scandal" against foreign service personnel. Estrada spearheaded the Senate investigation into the scandal.

Based on statistics, Kuwait ranks third among the top OFW destination countries, hosting around 180,000 Filipinos, some 80,000 of whom are HSWs.

Jinggoy said, "There are many concerns surrounding this issue: those of the HSWs and the other OFWs needing their jobs, our country's economy and our political and diplomatic standing vis-à-vis Kuwait and other OFW destination countries. But the safety of any one Filipina or Filipino is of paramount concern, way above all considerations."

He thus seconded the OFWs' call and echoed this to President Aquino: 'Ensure complete protection for Filipino workers, especially the household service workers who are considered the most vulnerable and defenseless against abuse.'

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