Kuwait condemns Philippine president's call to evacuate workers

Workers repatriated from Kuwait on their arrival

The Philippines updated on Wednesday its policy to ban the deployment of its citizens to Kuwait, allowing "returning" Filipino workers to finish their contract in Kuwait.

There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti's pet lions fatally mauled a Filipina maid.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente on Tuesday said he has directed the bureau's port operations division chief Marc Red Mariñas to immediately implement the ban through stricter immigration checks and preventing workers bound for Kuwait from leaving.

But what pushed the Philippines over the edge appears to the killing of a domestic worker whose body was left in a freezer in a Kuwait City apartment reportedly abandoned since November 2016.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait and ordered their repatriation in the wake of reports of maltreatment and death of Filipinos in the Gulf state.

Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al Khalid Al Sabah
Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al Khalid Al Sabah

Those interviewed by Arab News, majority household workers, said they went to Kuwait to provide a better life for their families.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said more than 500 Filipino workers have been repatriated from Kuwait as of Wednesday. 'Separate accidents unfortunately happen, and we are providing our Filipino counterparts with the results of the investigations, ' he said. "They have one of the least number of problems out of all expatriate communities".

He was speaking at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting in Kuwait of the global coalition against Islamic State.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) enforced the total ban after Joanna Demafelis, a domestic helper, was found frozen in the home of her employers, who were identified as a Lebanese and Syrian couple, whose whereabouts remain unknown. Kuwaiti police also are offering details on Filipino killings to his diplomats. "[The President] did the right thing to protect our workers and the dignity of our nation", Matula said.

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