Duterte mulls sending OFWs to China due to reports of abuse in Kuwait

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President Rodrigo Duterte's statement came amid a threat to ban overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait due to alleged employer abuse. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday he may reach out to China if foreign employers continue to abuse overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

This was after Duterte said on Wednesday he would ban OFWs in Kuwait if employers there do not treat Filipinos "with dignity."

READ: Duterte to Kuwait: Treat Filipino workers with dignity

"I will ask China to open its doors to us and I said to them that if you consider the Philippines, we would be glad to allow our workers to work here...All I ask is that, huwag ninyong abusuhin [don't abuse them]," he said during his arrival speech after his trip to India.

Duterte reiterated foreign employers should treat OFWs decently, adding that the country is ready to suffer even if it meant a reduced income. Latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data show cash remittances from Kuwait from January to November 2017 amount to US$735 million (₱37.5 billion).

"Do not destroy their dignity as a human being," he said. "Let them sleep long enough. (One) complaint is that they're fed with leftovers, kaya nagsu-suicide eh [that's why they commit suicide]. Hindi na matiis [They can't take it anymore], including rape."

7 deaths probed

The Labor Department suspended on January 20 the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait as authorities investigate the death of seven OFWs in the Gulf state.

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.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.