Duterte to Kuwait: Treat Filipino workers with dignity

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President Rodrigo Duterte said he just wanted to be blunt with the Gulf state, in a speech before he left for India Wednesday.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) President Rodrigo Duterte warned Kuwaitis to stop abusing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) lest they want to suffer the consequences.

"I hope I'm not committing a diplomatic faux pas, but one more incident about being a woman Filipina worker being raped there, committing suicide, I'm going to stop, to ban and I'm sorry to the Filipinos there, you can all go home," Duterte said in his pre-departure speech before his India trip Wednesday.

But Duterte said he just wanted to be blunt with the Gulf state, as they are "allies."

"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 added.

Duterte's tirade comes after Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III issued an administrative order Friday evening, which ordered the immediate suspension of the deployment of OFW to Kuwait. The Department of Foreign Affairs is looking into the possibility of a total deployment ban.

DOLE is still probing the deaths of seven OFWs in Kuwait, namely: Liezl Truz Hukdong, Vanessa Karissha L. Esguerra, Marie Fe Saliling Librada, Arlene Castillo Manzano, Devine Riche Encarnacion, Patrick Sunga, and Mira Luna Juntilla. All of them were household services workers, who were deployed in 2016.

READ: DOLE suspends OFW deployment to Kuwait

According to state-run news agency KUNA, Kuwait Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah claimed the cases of the seven victims did not apply to the majority of OFWs. Sabah also told KUNA that Kuwait had a clean human rights record.

The Kuwaiti government also summoned Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa on Tuesday to express regret with Duterte's decision.

The West Asian country remains a top destination of migrant workers from the Philippines.

Latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data show cash remittances from Kuwait from January to November 2017 amount to US$735 million (₱37.5 billion).