President Rodrigo Duterte has urged all 260,000 Filipinos in Kuwait to return home and said a deployment ban imposed in February due to concerns over poor work conditions would now be permanent.
Speaking in southern Davao City on Sunday after his return from the ASEAN Summit in Singapore, Duterte said new jobs would be found for those forced to leave the Gulf sultanate, GMA News reported.
“The ban stays permanently. There will be no more recruitment, especially for domestic helpers. No more,” he insisted, adding that it was up to Filipinos in Kuwait to decide whether or not to stay.
“For the household workers whose employers want them to stay, that is their choice, but choose the better option,” he said. “All I ask is that the employers treat the Filipinos with the humanity they deserve.”
Relations between the two countries have soured due to a series of alleged abuses against Filipinos, especially domestic helpers. The ban on deployments was announced after it was revealed a maid’s body had been left in a freezer in Kuwait City for more than a year.
On Wednesday Kuwait ordered Philippine ambassador Renato Villa to leave for allegedly violating the country’s sovereignty; employees at the Philippine embassy had reportedly been convincing maids to leave their employers, while Villa had criticised Kuwait in media reports.
Promising to arrange jobs for anyone who wants to leave Kuwait, Duterte noted that about 100,000 English teachers were needed in China and Japan was looking for carers. He said the Philippine government was also looking at deploying Filipino workers to Russia.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, about 65% of the Filipinos living in Kuwait are domestic workers.