Palace willing to lift "permanent" employment ban to Kuwait, once both countries reach an agreement to resolve labor issues

Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte / photo file (ctto)

Following the announcement from Kuwait that it is now willing to resolve issues concerning labor of Filipino Overseas Workers (OFW), Malacanang also clarified that the “permanent” ban on deploying workers to Gulf State as announced by President Rodrigo Duterte would be lifted when both countries reach an agreement.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the announcement in a press briefing on Monday.

“What the President announced is the maintenance of the status quo, until we have reached or signed the MOU (memorandum of understanding) providing for the minimum terms and conditions of our nationals, the ban stays,” Roque said.

Reportedly, Philippines and Kuwait came to negotiate an agreement after President Duterte announced a temporary ban on deployment of OFWs to Kuwait after abuses on Filipino workers rise up, which was also fueled by the death of Joanna Demafelis.

However, a diplomatic row ensued after Kuwait government found out about videos of covert rescue mission conducted by Philippine Embassy staff.

Kuwait claimed that rescue missions were against its Sovereignty and expelled the PH Ambassador Renato Villa, Kuwait also pulled out its envoy in Manila.

Roque instilled that diplomatic ties between two countries remained, and that actions are now being done to repair ties which would be announced “in due course”.

“There is diplomatic mission. Diplomatic ties remain which means that we have a mission there to protect our nationals. And Kuwait also is duty-bound to protect aliens under the standards dictated by international law under terms and conditions which are not inferior to the way that they treat their own nationals,” Roque said

Meanwhile, Roque also said that the president is prepared to use the funds given by China during his last visit in Beijing for repatriation of all workers in Kuwait, if necessary.

“The fund that the President was referring to was the fund promised by China, which was equivalent to roughly P4.8 billion. So that’s the fund that the President will use as travel fund if necessary,” Roque said.

“But again, this is voluntary. He is not compelling anyone to come home. The context here is that if Kuwait does not want Filipinos, they can come home and we will help them,” the spokesman added.
And just last Sunday, as reported by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the Gulf State announced that it remained optimistic that both countries could overcome this “exceptional circumstance”.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said that Kuwait government was ready to cooperate with Manila to resolve issues on labor, including the 800 OFWs who remained in shelters in Kuwait.

“Kuwait rejects any breach against its sovereignty or laws and would act decisively against any relevant attempt,” Al-Jarallah said, according to KUNA and Kuwait Times report.

Though Al-Jarallah expressed appreciation for the contributions of the Filipino workers in any sectors, he also stressed that Kuwait would act against violations of its sovereignty and laws.

 Source: Manila Times

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