Kuwait. Photo: iStock
Kuwait. Photo: iStock

A government official in the Philippines says Middle Eastern countries should abolish the kafala system, which gives sponsoring employers too much control over workers and leaves workers vulnerable to trafficking and forced labor.

On Wednesday, Abdullah Mama-o, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers, said the Philippine government should not allow the deployment of workers to the Middle East while the kafala system is still in place, ABS-CBN News reported.

Under that system, employers are required to sponsor their domestic workers in order for them to acquire a visa and work permit. Mama-o said the system hindered the Philippine government’s efforts to Filipinos working in the Middle East.

“The employer controls everything. When the worker arrives, he has the passport, he locks the house, the room, everything. Domestic workers cannot go out of the house,” he said.

Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad said he and a team of officials would go to Kuwait on Thursday to ensure the protection of Filipinos working there, Arab Times reported.

Lagunzad said President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the team to ensure that Filipino workers in Kuwait deposit their passports at the Philippine Embassy and that they have access to mobile phones so that they can call for help in case of abuse.

Many domestic workers in the Middle East have had their passports and mobile phones confiscated.

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