THE deployment ban of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will extend to other countries, President Rodrigo Duterte said, demanding that Filipinos be treated with dignity.
In his speech during a gathering of the Filipino-Chinese business community at the Manila Hotel on Monday night, Duterte recognized how jobs provided by other countries to OFWs contribute significantly to the Philippine economy.
The President said, however, that such benefits should not come at the cost of the lives or the welfare of the OFWs themselves.
“If you are a slave or you are a paid worker, the treatment is always the same. Para magklaruhan na tayo (To make things clear). That’s why I’m suspending and it will continue. Will it involve hardships? Yes. Will it involve sacrifice? Yes. Would it mean anger? Yes. To me, yes. Tanggapin ko lahat (I will accept everything). If they lose their — yes. I’m ready to admit everything but the ban stands,” he said.
“The ban will continue and it will extend to other countries. Mahirapan sila (They’re having a hard time), well, humihingi na ako ng tawad sa inyo (I ask for your forgiveness). I will not allow… Hindi… Wala akong kaplano na ipadala kayo doon tapos babuyin kayo. Hindi ko style ‘yan (I’ve no plans to send you there then they will treat you like dirt. That’s not my style)… We, Orientals, do not do that, we do not inflict brutality and cruelty on our fellow human,” the President added.
Duterte then reiterated his appeal to Kuwait and other countries to take steps to end the abuse and to treat Filipinos as “human beings with dignity.”
“And that is why we have to allow them to go out. My message is that, we are poor, we go to your country to work. The only thing that — things that we ask is that you give us the dignity of a human being, you treat us humanely, be tolerant of our cultural differences and do not abuse our women because it will inflict a long and lasting wound. Maybe this generation cannot and will not forget it,” he said.
“That is why, I’m addressing myself, not only to Kuwait but to the entire nations in the world to say that Filipinos are everywhere seeking livelihood, can I please plead to you? Please do not degrade them like animals, do not treat them as a slave,” he added.
Duterte made the statement amid the spate of Kuwaiti employers’ abuses that prompted him to stop Filipinos from seeking work in the Gulf state and seek the immediate return of those still there.
On February 9, the President imposed a total ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait after he learned about the case of domestic helper, Joanna Daniela Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in the Gulf nation.
Duterte, who was angered by Demafelis’ death, had warned Kuwait of “karma” for its inhumane treatment of OFWs.
The Kuwait Foreign Minister, in a statement on February 13 sought an explanation for the ban.
Despite the directive, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said that the Philippines would not cut ties with Kuwait.
“The long-term Philippine-Kuwaiti relations will not be affected,” the Palace official said. CATHERINE S. VALENTE