Duterte tells Filipino workers in Kuwait to 'come home'
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday called on overseas Filipino workers [OFWs] in Kuwait to "come home" amid an ongoing diplomatic row between Kuwait and the Philippines.
The two countries clashed recently over the evacuation of distressed domestic workers by Filipino diplomatic staff in Kuwait, which led to the expulsion of the Philippines' ambassador.
Addressing a crowd of around 4,000 Filipino workers at a shopping mall in Singapore, the president said he had some "bad news" to share.
"The only sin of Filipino workers in Kuwait or in any other countries is 'survival' to earn a living," Duterte said.
"All of you Filipinos listening, come home to the Philippines. There are many jobs now," he later added, in a speech in which he still described Kuwait as "neighbour" and "friend," despite the ongoing row.
To facilitate the repatriation of OFWs in Kuwait, who number around 260,000, the president said that the Philippines would be willing to borrow money.
"I will look for money and I will get all, all the Filipino workers (in Kuwait)," he said.
Prior to the most recent breakdown in relations, the two nations had been working to resolve differences sparked by the murder of a Philippine maid, whose body was found stuffed in her employer's freezer in Kuwait earlier this year.
But relations plunged after the Philippines released videos last week of embassy staff helping Filipino workers flee from allegedly abusive employers, which Kuwait called a violation of its sovereignty.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano apologised, but Kuwaiti officials announced on Wednesday they were expelling ambassador Renato Villa and recalling their own envoy from Manila.
The move marked a new low in relations between the two states.
President Duterte is expected on Sunday to deliver a "personally crafted" position on the row.
"I confirm he will announce the Philippines' position personally during his arrival statement in Davao on Sunday," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told in Singapore.
"He wants to announce it on Philippine soil," he added.