Philippines bars workers from Kuwait over sexual abuse fears
Manila barred Filipinos from working in Kuwait Friday, as it investigates the mysterious deaths of nationals in the Gulf state.
Philippines Labour Secretary Silvestre Belo said the ban would be in place "pending investigation of the causes of deaths of about six or seven of our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers)".
It comes a day after President Rodrigo Duterte hit out at Kuwait over the treatment of Filipino workers and threatened to prevent nationals from going to the Gulf state.
He said employer abuse in Kuwait had driven four workers to suicide, while others had suffered sexual abuse in the country.
"[We want a] state the truth and [Kuwait to] just tell them that [abuse is] not acceptable anymore," he said.
Duterte remains hugely popular among the country's Filipino diaspora in the Gulf, who send back around $2 billion in remittances a month, according to the BBC.
Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah said he regrets the president's remarks and that individual cases of abuse do not reflect the broader treatment of Filipinos in the country.
But later on Friday, Belo said more cases of abuse had emerged and the Philippines government were investigating these claims.
Kuwait's government said it was in touch with Manila over the claims.
There are more than 250,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait, many as house helpers.
Human rights groups have documented cases of abuse against foreign workers in Kuwait but some - such as Human Rights Watch - have said the government is doing more than most in the Gulf to tackle the problem.
Kuwait has introduced a minimum wage for domestic workers, opened a refuge and hotline for "runaway maids" and given human rights workers access to the country.
But cases of extreme abuse still continue to emerge, including a video showing an Ethiopian house worker left dangling from a window as she tried to escape her Kuwaiti employer's house.