Bello orders recall of POLO welfare officer in Kuwait

MANILA — Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has ordered the recall of a Welfare Officer from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait.

The move is in response to the complaint of the family of Joanna Daniella Demafelis whose body was found inside a freezer in the said country, that their request for assistance to locate their missing sister was ignored.

In an interview, the Labor chief said that he ordered the recall of Ma. Sarah Antonia Concepcion since he couldn’t accept the latter’s explanation on why they did not act on the request of the sister of the late overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

Aside from Concepcion, Bello also ordered Labor Attaché Alejandro Padaen to explain within 72 hours why they did not file a report to the concerned agencies or provide the necessary assistance to subject OFW.

“I gave them a memo to explain why they did not act on the complaint of the sister of Joanna Demafelis, yesterday I received their explanation. ‘Yung explanation ng welfare officer, si Ms. Concepcion, I could not accept so immediately order her recall,” he said.

“As for Ms. Concepcion, her explanation is that there are too many work, masyado daw marami trabaho, that’s not a good explanation. If you can’t handle such work, you can leave. I adopted her attitude, if you cant handle your job come back to the Philippines,” Bello added.

As for the Labor Attaché, Bello said that he would be studying Padaen’s statement.

“Welfare officer Ma. Sarah Concepcion, I ordered her recall already. As for Labor Attaché Padaen, I still have to find out whether his explanation is reasonable or not kasi bago nga naman sya, I think barely two days after the complaint was presented to the then…” he explained.

Bello said that Concepcion would return to her job in Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), adding that “Unless OWWA Administration Hans Leo Cacdac will consider (in filing) administration complaint.”

Meanwhile, the DOLE chief said that they understand the reaction of Kuwait on the total deployment ban of OFWs as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“That is expected of him as a Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait but he has to understand the position of the President, the President is very strong in his statement that we have to order a total ban on deployment of our OFWs to Kuwait until such time that they can assure the safety and effective protection of our OFWs,” Bello said.

“Try to put himself on the position of our President, seeing his fellow suffered abuse…l’m sure he would act the same way as our Presixent acted, its very clear that the purpose of the Presidenr in ordering a total deployment ban is to see to it that our OFWs are protected and welfare effectively attended to,” he added.

On the other hand, Bello reported that both countries have agreed to sit down and discuss anew the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which has been pending with the host country.

Both the Philippines and Kuwait have created their respective technical working group to craft the draft MOU which is expected to be signed next month.

“We already created a technical working group and they will also create their own technical working group and we invited them to come here for the purpose of finalizing the draft but then he countered offer that he prefer that we go there, so I said I have no objection, what is important is we would finally come up with a MOU to be signed by their Minister of Labor and myself,” he added.

Asked if he will recommend to the President to lift the ban once the MOU has been signed, Bello said, “It depends, since there were instances that the implementation of MOU is not followed, we have to see a bonafide implementation, ensuring that our OFWs are in safe hands when they are there.”