Insisting that Filipinos are not slaves, President Rodrigo Duterte fumed Friday at the latest death of Philippine national in Kuwait and offered to ship his countrymen who would like to leave the Arab country in the next 72 hours.
Duterte said that with the mounting number of deaths and abuses being reported by Filipinos in Kuwait, his government would not lift the ban on the deployment of new workers to the Gulf nation.
“If a ban is what is needed, then let it be so. The ban continues today I don’t know until what time,” said Duterte, who insisted that he was prepared to take “drastic steps” to defend Filipino life and limb.
Duterte said that there were 82 reported overseas Filipino deaths in Kuwait in 2016, and this number went up to 120 in 2017.
The president, speaking in his hometown of Davao City, said that the Philippines was sending hearty and healthy workers, while Kuwait would ship battered Filipinos and mutilated corpse to Manila.
He said that he would be useless as president if he would not be able to do anything about the deteriorating situation for OFWs in Kuwait.
“If I were to do it to your citizens, would you be happy?” said the president who wondered if there was something wrong in the values or culture of Arab nations that could be the reason for their treatment of Filipinos.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said that one condition that the Philippine government would seek was for Kuwait to sign a memorandum of understanding that would provide Filipinos further protection.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are around 250,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait, many of whom are domestic workers.