Kuwait invites Duterte to visit amid ban on OFW deployment
Kuwait has invited President Rodrigo Duterte to visit, as the two countries try to settle their differences over abusive treatment of Filipino workers in the wealthy Gulf state.
Mr. Duterte had planned to visit Kuwait, but the plan apparently had been shelved after he banned the deployment of new workers to Kuwait earlier this month following the discovery of the body of a Filipino maid in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait City.
He also ordered the repatriation of distressed Filipino workers from the Arab country.
Widened labor ban
Two planes full of workers arrived in Manila from Kuwait last week as the Department of Labor and Employment began to enforce the ban.
Mr. Duterte said on Monday he would not hesitate to extend the ban to other countries where Filipinos would be abused.
Kuwait called the ban an unnecessary escalation of a diplomatic rift, but agreed to work out a solution with the Philippine government.
Mr. Duterte last week directed Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to get from the Kuwaitis assurance of protection for Filipinos in the Gulf state.
On Monday, Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah said the two countries had agreed to sign an agreement to regulate working conditions.
“We proposed to the Philippine authorities to resolve and contain these issues and not to escalate them in the media,” state news agency Kuna quoted Khaled as saying. “There was agreement on this … and we received a response.”
Kuna said Kuwait invited Mr. Duterte to visit in early March. Malacañang said on Tuesday that no decision had been made yet whether to accept the invitation.
Respect for Filipinos
Mr. Duterte said on Monday that the ban stayed and he would not hesitate to extend it to other countries where Filipino migrant workers would be abused.
At the same time, Mr. Duterte appealed to all nations to treat Filipino workers with respect and dignity.
“That is why, I’m addressing myself, not only to Kuwait but to the entire nations in the world to say that Filipinos are everywhere seeking livelihood, can I please plead to you? Please do not degrade them like animals, do not treat them as a slave,” Mr. Duterte said in a speech at the 10th biennial convention and 20th founding anniversary of the Chinese-Filipino Business Club Inc. on Monday night.
He said he would face the consequences of thousands of workers returning jobless, even apologizing in advance for the hardships they would go through here.
Mr. Duterte promised to provide assistance to Filipino workers returning home because of any ban.
“I’m ready to admit everything but the ban stands. Just go home and we will find a way to help you, even with food,” he said.
Filipinos are looking for jobs, but they are not slaves, he said.
Mr. Duterte acknowledged that Filipinos were leaving to work in other countries because of a dearth of opportunities in their own country. But he promised to continue working to improve the economy.
“It is an indictment of this government, all the way that until now, we have not been able really to climb economically to provide comfortable living for everybody,” he added.
Mr. Duterte appealed to other countries for tolerance of cultural differences.
“Do not abuse our women because it will inflict a long and lasting wound. Maybe this generation cannot and will not forget it,” he said. —With a report from the wires
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