Duterte open to lifting OFW deployment ban to Kuwait

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, May 11 said he was open to lifting the deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait, after the signing of  the protection agreement with the Gulf state.

In a speech in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Duterte reiterated his conditions late Friday for the deal such as having a "day off" and getting "at least 7 hours of sleep daily."

"Papayag ako i-lift ang ban...Kung nandiyan lahat 'yan, sabi ko, okay ako," Duterte said. (I will allow the lifting of the ban if all of those [conditions] are met, I said, I'm okay with it.)

It is not clear, however, whether the President support the full or partial lifting of the ban. President Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that the signing of the protection agreement may lead to the Philippine government lifting the ban partially.

The memorandum of agreement will provide additional protection to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), which would allow OFWs to keep their passports and mobile phones. (READ: Philippines and Kuwait sign agreement protecting OFWs)

The meeting comes two weeks after Kuwait declared Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa "persona non grata" because of the embassy's rescue of distressed Filipino workers from private Kuwait homes without proper coordination with local authorities. The Kuwaiti government made the move after the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs posted on social media a video of the rescue.

In February, the labor department issued a total deployment ban due to a "series of reports involving abuse and death of OFWs in Kuwait." 

The ban was ordered after Filipino domestic helper Joanna Daniella Demafelis, 29, was found dead in a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.