Abdullah Mama-o new special envoy to Kuwait

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Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs and Muslim Concerns Abdullah Mamao.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed his adviser on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affairs Abdullah Mama-o as a special envoy to Kuwait.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Mama-o, who just arrived from Kuwait, will head back to the Gulf state as soon as possible under the President's orders.

"He will be appointed special envoy to Kuwait and he was tasked to return to Kuwait immediately to make sure that all Filipinos who should be sent back home can return home," he said.

Roque said Mama-o will attend to unfinished issues with Kuwait -- including the fate of four detained Filipino drivers and three Filipino diplomats at the Philippine embassy in Kuwait. The seven participated in a rescue mission for supposedly distressed OFWs.

"We want to see our three diplomats home, we want the four drivers completely cleared  because these are residents of Kuwait," she said. "And there's about 800 runaways that we want to bring home."

He added Mama-o will also see through the pending memorandum of understanding between Philippines and Kuwait on the protection of Filipino workers, in hopes of normalizing ties.

Labor Chief Silvestre Bello, Roque, and other Foreign Affairs Officials were scheduled to fly to Kuwait on May 7 to sign the labor deal between the two countries, but the trip was cancelled.

Roque said Mama-o will talk with the Kuwaiti government about the deal ahead of Bello. In a May 1 report of Kuwait News Agency, Mama-o said he met with Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah to discuss the labor deal.

Mama-o's appointment comes after the Kuwaiti government declared former Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa persona non grata, and ordered him to leave their country.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the Philippines' ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait would be permanent. The ban follows the death of Joanna Demafelis, a Filipina worker in Kuwait who was found in a freezer early this year.

Kuwait is a top destination for overseas Filipino workers, with some 260,000 Filipinos working there as of 2018.