MANILA -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Monday officially ordered a total ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait effective immediately.

This move is pursuant to President Rodrigo R. Duterte's directive amid reports of several deaths of Filipino workers particularly household service workers (HSWs) in the host country.

“In pursuit of national interest, and with the advent of the series of reports involving abuse and death of Overseas Filipino Workers in Kuwait, a total ban on deployment of all Overseas Filipino Workers to Kuwait pursuant to the directive of the President of the Philippines is hereby enforced,” said the Administrative Order No. 54 signed by DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

He explained that the ban will cover all workers, including new hires and returning OFWs or Balik Manggagawa (BM), adding that they will be studying the case of the latter.

“With respect to (our) Balik Manggagawa, pinag-aaralan pa namin dahil alam mo kung minsan (we are studying it because sometimes), although we would want our Balik Manggagawa to come home and then go back where they are working kung okay ang kanilang working condition...kaya lang alam naman ninyo na may mga pekeng BM (but you know, there are fake BMs), yun ang pinag-aaralan muna kung paano ito maiiwasan (We are studying on how to prevent these instances),” Bello said.

At the same time, he said that apart from the reiteration program including finding them a new job or provide them with livelihood, by the government for those who would like to come home, there are also other markets that may be available.

Ngayon, (Now) works are on alternative markets like for example, China, Russia and recently you must have heard na merong pangangailangan ang Japan at Czechoslovakia (Japan and Czechoslovakia are in need of workers),” the DOLE chief added.

On the other hand, he noted that an inter-agency task force was created to oversee the repatriation of OFWs from Kuwait. It will be composed of the DOLE, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Another task force was likewise created that will assess the OFWs in Kuwait, to be composed of DOLE, OWWA and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Earlier, President Duterte ordered the repatriation of OFWs in the host country due to the number deaths of Filipino workers there.

The President has talked with airline companies to help bring back to the country, distressed workers and those who would like to come home. (PNA)