Duterte sets terms for lifting ban on OFW deployment
President Duterte will not lift the ban on deployment of workers to Kuwait until the Kuwaiti government accepts the conditions he has laid down involving humane treatment of Filipinos in the wealthy Gulf state.
Speaking before a gathering of his supporters in Pasay City on Wednesday night, Mr. Duterte reiterated his conditions for the lifting of the ban and directed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to work for Kuwait’s adoption of his terms.
“I said, ‘If this fails to be approved, Silvestre Bello, labor secretary, sorry. No lifting of the ban,” Mr. Duterte said.
According to Mr. Duterte, the Filipino workers’ passports must not be confiscated by Kuwaiti employers, as this is akin to holding them hostage.
The workers must be guaranteed adequate sleep, he said, noting that the tendency in the past was to work Filipinos to the bone and have them serve families other than their employers’.
Filipino workers must also have a day off for them to go to church, he said.
They must also be allowed to cook their own food, Mr. Duterte said, lamenting that there have been Filipino maids in Kuwait who have been fed scraps.
‘We are not slaves’
“As I said, we are not slaves. The only sin of these Filipinos is poverty,” he said.
Mr. Duterte also wants Filipinos in Kuwait to be allowed to use and keep their cell phones so they can keep in touch with their families in the Philippines.
And he wants a stop to the practice by Kuwaiti employers of selling Filipino maids to other employers.
Mr. Duterte ordered a halt to the deployment of new workers to Kuwait after the discovery of the body of Filipino domestic helper Joanna Demafelis inside a freezer at an abandoned apartment in Kuwait City on Feb. 7.
Demafelis had been dead for a year when her body was found.
Her Lebanese employer and his Syrian wife fled Kuwait, but they have been arrested by Middle East authorities on a red notice from Interpol.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.