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Kuwait ready to cooperate

By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Certainly, it is good to note that Kuwait is ready to cooperate with the Philippines in exploring all means to address labor issues, including that of the 800 Filipinos who are currently in shelter centers.

Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said the emirate is keen on maintaining the safety and rights of all expatriates, including Filipinos, within the labor laws of the country which have been praised by international human rights agencies. He, however, said his country will also “act decisively” against attempts to breach its sovereignty.

Al-Jarallah appreciated the contributions of the Filipino community, noted Manila‘s support of Kuwait during the 1990-91 Iraqi invasion, and described “the historic friendship” between the two countries could help overcome this diplomatic row.

This is all well and good but does Al-Jarallah’s statement have any effect on President Duterte who is now calling on Filipino workers in Kuwait to return home?

Duterte’s recent appeal was directed mainly at Household Service Workers (HSWs), not professionals whose working conditions are generally trouble-free.

Earlier, the President issued a total ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait following the death of HSW Joanna Demafelis whose body was found in a freezer in February. Thousands of OFWs were repatriated since the ban’s implementation.

Duterte appealed to the Kuwaiti government and household employers not to harm the workers. He promised to look for the money to take home all of them. He said might use the financial aid from China to help them leave Kuwait. This money was originally allotted for hospitals outside Metro Manila. The government would also help the workers pay off their debts. The President said he could also use the emergency fund since he believes the workers’ situation is a calamity.

However, the OFW group Migrante International believes returning workers may end up unemployed or underemployed. It will not do them any good and can supposedly worsen their situation. These workers may just return to Kuwait through illegal means. They can even fall victim to human trafficking.

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