DAVAO CITY -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday made clear his stance that Kuwait deployment ban stays permanently in the wake of a diplomatic spat between the Philippines and the Gulf state.
No. The ban stays permanently. There will be no more recruitment for -- especially domestic helpers. Wala na, the President said.
This was the President's declaration in a press briefing at Davao International Airport upon his arrival here at past 1 a.m. Sunday from Singapore, where he attended the 32nd ASEAN Leaders' Meeting.
He also asked those remaining in the Gulf state to come home as they are no longer needed in Kuwait. An estimated 260,000 OFWs presently work in Kuwait, including 700 Filipinos now facing different charges and have sought refuge in the embassy shelter.
Of the total number of Filipinos there, about 150,000 are household service workers.
Duterte vowed to get back all those who want to come home using available funds or the funds given by China. If money is not enough, Duterte said he would use emergency funds. To me this is a calamity, he told reporters.
Please come home. Kahit mahirap tayo, mabubuhay pa rin tayo (Even if we are poor, we will still survive), he said.
He assured there are available jobs here with the government's Build, Build, Build program.
The President said the country is already short of professional and skilled workers for the construction industry. Duterte also looks forward to China's offer of opening jobs for Filipinos as English language teachers.
He further directed responsible government agencies to start the mobilization immediately.
For the Filipino professionals in Kuwait who wish to stay, Duterte said there would be no problem but reminded them to always cherish and nurture patriotism.
For household service workers whose employers want them to leave, Duterte said, Please come home. Your government will do its best to help your return and resettle. But I appeal to your sense of patriotism and love of country and family.
For household workers whose employers want them to stay, the President asked them to choose the better option. All I ask is for employers to treat Filipinos the humanity they deserve, he said.
Duterte stressed the good relations of the Philippines and Kuwait. However, he said current developments test both countries commitment to work together.
We must be undeterred in the work of helping our fellow human beings as we pursue our shared interest with due respect to each other's sovereignty. But if my people are considered a burden to some of them to some government mandated to protect them and uphold the rights then we will do our part, he added.
He vowed that under his watch he will do the utmost to remain true and loyal to this mandate and principled position protecting the migrant workers.
He clarified that he does not begrudge Kuwait. I don't nurture hate against the Kuwaiti people, he said.
He said that when Philippines and Kuwait were in the best of relations, the Filipinos also benefited. But he also recalled that Philippines was also the first country to help when the Kuwaiti people needed it most during the Gulf war.
Given this decision, the President asked the Kuwaiti people not to abuse the Filipino workers and treat them deserving of a human being.
Before the Philippines-Kuwait diplomatic row, the President was expected to sign the MOU seen to provide the minimum terms and conditions of employment for OFWs.
The MOU was crafted following the murder of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer in an unoccupied apartment in Kuwait, and the reported cases of maltreatment and abuses against Filipinos.
Following the Demafelis case, Duterte imposed a ban on sending workers to Kuwait.
The repatriation of overstaying Filipinos granted amnesty by the Kuwaiti government followed. Since February, a total of 5,066 repatriates have come home.
Before his Singapore visit, there were already plans for the President to visit Kuwait to witness the signing of the MOU. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency