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AMID DIPLOMATIC CRISIS WITH GULF COUNTRY

Duterte urges 260,000 OFWs in Kuwait to come home

Published: 9:21 p.m., April 28, 2018 | Updated: 11:50 p.m., April 28, 2018

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SINGAPORE — President Rodrigo Duterte called on the 260,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait, most of them employed as domestic helpers, to return home, saying the Gulf state apparently did not want their services anymore.

“To you there in Kuwait, [to] those who are not really household helpers, I now appeal to your sense of patriotism: Come home, anyway there are now many jobs in the Philippines,” the President said, addressing the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait.

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“I will look for money and I will get all, all the Filipino workers (in Kuwait),” he told about 6,000 members of the Filipino community in Singapore, where he had attended the 32nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.

‘Bad news’

The President told his audience at Big Box center that he had “bad news” about the diplomatic row between Kuwait and the Philippines over the recent rescue of abused Filipino maids by Philippine Embassy staff in Kuwait.

The rescue had angered the Kuwaiti government, saying the act violated the country’s sovereignty and ordered Philippine Ambassador Rene Villa to leave the country.

The President said ties between the two nations were now “being put to the test.”

“I plead that since there is a total ban on deployment, I don’t want them anymore to [go to Kuwait] because apparently [the Kuwaitis] do not like them,” he said.

“Do not hurt” the Filipino workers and “treat them deserving of a human being,” he appealed to the Kuwaitis.

The President said he could use funds given by China to “get all those who want to go home” and joked about robbing a bank to get more money.

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He did not say how many or what kind of jobs awaited those willing to heed his call to return.

‘Diplomatic ruckus’

Despite what he described as a “diplomatic ruckus” between the two countries, the President said there was no anger or hatred in his heart toward Kuwait.

He was thankful to Kuwait for helping OFWs, whom he said owed a debt of gratitude to the Gulf state.

“If the presence of Filipinos is a burden to you, allow us to get them out,” the President said. “As the President of the nation, it behooves upon me to do something.”

On Friday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President would announce an important “course of action” in connection with the diplomatic crisis.

Roque said the President’s move would be “Solomonic” and “dramatic.”

He said the President arrived at the decision on the Kuwait problem on his own, “something he personally crafted” and that it was “not specially recommended by anyone.”

“It shows his experience on governance and there’s wisdom I guess even in the number of years of leadership and as well as in his age,” Roque said. /atm /pdi

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TAGS: Kuwait-Philippines relations, OFWs in Kuwait, rescue of OFWs, Rodrigo Duterte
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