Kuwait invites Filipino President Duterte amid workers' abuse row

Kuwait invites Filipino President Duterte amid workers' abuse row
2 min read
19 February, 2018
Kuwait's Deputy FM has invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to visit after taking a stand against the way Filipino workers are allegedly treated in the Emirdom.
Angry protesters standing in solidarity with Joanna Demafelis murdered in Kuwait [AFP]

Kuwait has invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to visit after he took a stand against the way Filipino workers are allegedly treated in the Emirdom.

Kuwait and the Philippines have been entangled in a diplomatic rift that has received global attention after Manila suspended sending its citizens to the Emirdom last month amid allegations of extreme abuse.

"I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait. I respect their leaders but they have to do something about this because many Filipinas will commit suicide," Duterte said in a speech at the launching of a Manila bank for Filipinos abroad in January.

"We have lost about four Filipino women in the last few months. It's always in Kuwait," Duterte said, without providing details.

Since then, the body of a Filipina worker was allegedly found in a freezer in Kuwait, sparking global outrage and protests inside the Philippines calling justice for murdered Joanna Demafelis.

As the dispute continues to rage on, Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah announced on Monday that the two countries had agreed to sign a deal to regulate working conditions.

"We proposed to the Philippine authorities to resolve and contain these issues and not to escalate them in the media. There was agreement on this ... and we received a response," he was quoted as saying on Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA.

More than 250,000 Filipinos work in the Emirdom. The Philippines is a major labour exporter with about a tenth of more than 100 million Filipinos working abroad. The earnings they send home have bolstered the Philippine economy for decades.

Workers endure the threat of abuses, including rape, in some countries to be able to send money home and keep their children in school. But with their parents working abroad, some children end up being sexually abused or become drug addicts, Duterte said.

Thousands of mostly poor suspects have been killed in Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs since he took power in 2016, alarming Western governments and human rights groups.