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OFW deployment ban to Kuwait made permanent

The ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait would stay permanently, President Duterte announced yesterday, as he took responsibility for the diplomatic conflict arising from controversial rescue of distressed workers in the Gulf state.

The President has promised to find alternative places of employment such as China and Japan after encouraging Filipino workers in Kuwait to show patriotism and come home.

The government might use the R4-billion aid extended by China or other tap government emergency funds to help returning Filipino workers from the “calamity” situation in Kuwait, Duterte added.

“No, The ban stays permanently. There will be no more recruitment for – especially domestic helpers. Wala na,” Duterte said in a press conference upon arrival in Davao City from Singapore, when asked if he will still pursue the country’s proposed labor pact with Kuwait.

Duterte pushed for closer anti-terrorism and illegal drugs cooperation and protection of migrant workers as well as obtained $185 million in investments from businessmen while he was in Singapore for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

The Philippines and Kuwait earlier negotiated a proposed agreement on the additional protection of Filipino workers following reports of abuse of workers. The signing of the accord, however, appeared to be placed in peril after Kuwait protested the Philippine embassy personnel’s rescue of some Filipino workers from their supposed abusive employers.

The President said some groups were “finding faults” in the actions committed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan S. Cayetano but he stressed that he was taking the blame for the situation.

“At the end of the day, I’d like to thank the government of Kuwait. It was all my responsibility. I should be the one to be blamed and I’m ready to accept it,” he said.

Duterte clarified that he was neither taking “vengeance” nor nurturing “hate” against Kuwait, citing that they “were in the best of relations” that benefitted Filipinos for many years. “There are a lot of guys working there for so many years to enable their children to study and finish. And for that matter alone, the sheer help that we had. I’m grateful,” he said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)