PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday threatened to pull out all Filipinos working in Kuwait amid reports of widespread abuses and exploitation.
In his remarks before flying to India, Duterte lamented the reported cases of rape and other forms of abuse against overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait.
“One more incident about a woman, a Filipina worker being raped there, committing suicide. I’m going to stop – I’m going to ban. And I’m sorry, the Filipinos there, you can all go home,” the President said.
“Tutal ‘pag nag-alis kayo lahat na mga Pilipino diyan (If all Filipinos leave), they (Kuwaitis) will also be having a hell of a time adjusting to that. I will not allow a continuous incident of things like that. They (Filipinos) have to endure rape, they have to endure starvation, and they get about only four hours [of sleep] – that’s a universal story for all Filipinos,” he added.
The President then appealed to governments of Middle Eastern countries to ensure that the rights of OFWs were protected.
“Can I ask you now just to treat my countrymen as human beings with dignity. I do not want to fight with you. We need your help to improve our country,” he said.
Duterte’s remarks came days after the Department of Labor and Employment stopped the processing of overseas employment certificates to all Kuwait-bound workers.
On January 18, the President said he was mulling a “total ban” on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait after reported cases of sexual abuses among Filipino women.
During Wednesday’s remarks, Duterte said he recognized how jobs provided by Middle Eastern countries to OFWs contributed significantly to the Philippine economy.
But he said such benefits should not come at the cost of the lives or the welfare of Filipino workers.
“Nakakatulong kayo (Your are of help) but if it ends up with misery, rape and everything, and my countrymen committing suicide, well, there’s always a time. We are poor. We may need your help but we will not do it at the expense of the dignity of the Filipino,” Duterte said.
“Let me be blunt about this because Kuwait has always been an ally. But please do something about it, and [this is] for all the other countries in the Middle East. We have been sending Filipinos, doctors, and nurses to help you also and in return, helping us in the very much-needed revenues for their families here. I hope that you’d listen to me because I mean well, but I will never, never, never again tolerate [abuses],” he added.
Kuwait is home to about 600,000 domestic helpers, mostly Asian.
In January last year, Filipino migrant worker Jakatia Pawa was executed in Kuwait for allegedly killing her employer’s 22-year-old daughter.
The Labor department is still probing the deaths of seven OFWs in Kuwait, namely: Liezl Truz Hukdong, Vanessa Karissha Esguerra, Marie Fe Saliling Librada, Arlene Castillo Manzano, Devine Riche Encarnacion, Patrick Sunga and Mira Luna Juntilla. All of them were household workers, deployed in 2016.