PH Embassy rescues maid in Kuwait
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday said the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait helped a Filipino maid escape from her abusive employers during the weekend, a move that mirrored the events that led to a diplomatic row two years ago.
Foreign Undersecretary Brigido Dulay, who handles consular concerns and civilian security, announced on Twitter on Saturday that the Philippine Embassy had taken Delia Solomon from her employers and would bring her back to the Philippines.
“While a distressed [Filipino worker’s] plea was going viral [on] social media yesterday, our Kuwait PE (Philippine Embassy) worked quietly on extracting her,” Dulay said in a post addressed to Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
“We are happy to report that she is now sheltered in our embassy and we’re working on reunit[ing] her with her loved ones next week,” he said.
Locsin retweeted Dulay’s post but did not add a comment.
The Kuwait media put the Philippine Embassy in a bad light, saying it appeared to have “broken regulations in labor disputes” by harboring a Filipino who fled from her “sponsor,” or employer for a trivial reason.
“Philippine Embassy harbors maid who didn’t get to eat eggs,” the English language daily Arab Times said in the headline to its story that claimed the Filipino maid merely complained that she was prevented by her employers from eating eggs.
“Philippines Embassy in Kuwait is again in the eye for breaking regulations in labor disputes, as it opened the door for a maid to escape from her sponsor for a trivial and petty reason that prevented her eating eggs where she worked for her sponsor,” the report said.
In her Facebook post on Thursday, Solomon wrote in Filipino that her employers got angry and would have hit her because she boiled two eggs late at night before she went to bed.
She said she was very hungry because she was given only a piece of bread for dinner.
Solomon said that when she reasoned with them, her female employer wanted to hit her with a cooking pot.
She said when she asked to be returned to the recruitment agency, her employers threatened to throw her into a water tank and assign her to another family.
Solomon said her employers took her documents and phone charger, but she was able to hide her cell phone.
Employer gives in
The Arab Times report said Philippine authorities contacted Solomon’s employer, who gave in and handed the maid over to the recruitment agency while denying Solomon’s complaint.
The news report added that the employer, identified as Abu Jasir Al-Shammari, received a call from the police and was told to appear at the police station because a complaint had been filed by the Philippine Embassy.
The report said Kuwaiti authorities looked into the complaint due to the request of the Philippine Embassy, which was taking steps to avoid a repeat of the murder of Filipino maid Jeanelyn Villavende by her employers in December.
“The recent crisis will be an opportunity for many domestic workers to exploit sympathy and seek help from embassy to escape the natural responsibilities of working inside the home,” the Arab Times report said.
The Philippine government has imposed a complete ban on the deployment of new workers to Kuwait after the rape and killing of Villavende.
In February 2018, President Duterte also stopped labor traffic to the Gulf state after the body of the missing maid Joanna Demafelis was found in a freezer in her employers’ abandoned apartment in Kuwait City.
In April 2018, however, a diplomatic crisis erupted when Kuwait expelled Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and recalled its envoy in Manila after what was supposed to be a secret mission by embassy and DFA personnel to rescue distressed Filipino maids was disclosed to the press and shared on social media by the DFA.
The diplomatic row was resolved in May 2018 after the Philippine officials lifted the deployment ban and signed a labor agreement with Kuwait for the protection of Filipino workers in the wealthy Arab state.
The labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa said on Sunday that a complete ban on labor traffic could be more detrimental to the interest of Filipino migrant workers, as it could only make workers with expiring contracts to overstay and work illegally in their host country and drive new workers to enter the host country illegally.—WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS INQ
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