President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday threatened to pull out all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait if one more incident of abuse against any of them should happen.
“One more incident about being a woman, a Filipina worker being raped there, committing suicide, I’m going to stop. I’m going to ban [deployment] there,” Duterte said in his speech before departing for India at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
He said OFWs could all return to the Philippines, which would give Kuwait a “hell of a time.”
“And I’m sorry, the Filipinos there, you can all go home. Tutal ‘pag nag-alis kayo lahat na mga Pilipino diyan, they will also be having a hell of a time adjusting to that,” he said.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Saturday suspended the deployment of workers to Kuwait following the death of seven OFWs and the reported abuse among Filipinos there.
“Hindi ako papayag na [mangyari ang] continuous incident of things like that. They have to endure rape, they have to endure starvation, and they get about only four hours [of rest] – that’s a universal story for all Filipinos,” he said.
The President then called on Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries to treat OFWs as “human beings.”
“Can I ask you now just to treat my countrymen as human beings with dignity. I do not want to fight with you. We need your help to improve our country,” he said.
He acknowledged that “the incomes there of the Filipinos contribute a lot to the GDP of the country.”
“That is taken. Wala tayong ano diyan. Nakakatulong kayo,” he said.
But he said he won’t compromise the welfare of OFWs “if it ends up with misery, rape and everything.”
“We are poor, we may need your help, but we will not do it at the expense of the dignity of the Filipino,” he said.
He said Kuwait must “do something” about the abuses of Filipinos in their country, saying the two countries are allies.
All the other countries in the Middle East should do the same.
“I hope that you’d listen to me because I mean well,” he said. “But I will never, never, never again tolerate one more incident of rape to the point of committing suicide, jumping out of the window. That is something the Filipino people cannot stomach.” /atm