PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte says he will not lift the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait if the Kuwaiti government disagrees with the mandatory provisions he included in a deal set to be signed by the Philippines and the Gulf state.
“I demanded several things. I said if these will not be approved, Silvestro Bello, Labor Secretary, I’m sorry, no lifting of the ban,” Duterte said during the Mayor Rodrigo Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee National Convention at the Cuneta Astrodome on Wednesday night.
He made his statement even as the Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday urged the remaining undocumented Filipinos in Kuwait who want to go home not to wait until April 12 to register for repatriation.
In a statement, the department through Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola appealed to the undocumented Filipinos in Kuwait not to wait until the April 12 deadline to register to go home.
The department issued the deadline after the Philippine Embassy reported a drop in the number of undocumented Filipino workers registering for repatriation in Kuwait.
During the 39th commencement exercises of the Philippine National Police Academy in Cavite on Wednesday, Duterte also outlined some mandatory provisions that would protect the Filipinos in Kuwait.
He demanded that the Filipinos, many of them domestics, be guaranteed seven hours of sleep and be allowed to cook their own food.
“We will not allow leftovers to be eaten by our countrymen. They should be allowed to cook their own food,” Duterte said.
He also included in the MOU Duterte the non-confiscation of the Filipinos’ passports and the employers allowing the Filipinos to take rest days and holidays.
“They must have a day off so they can go to church. If she’s a Muslim, then you allow her to go to the mosque. A Christian, allow her or him to go to church,” Duterte said.
Before thousands of his supporters who campaigned for him during the 2016 elections, Duterte vowed to protect the Filipino workers, saying “the only fault of these [workers] is they are poor”.
Last month, Duterte ordered the ban on the deployment of Filipinos to Kuwait, which was triggered by the killing of Joana Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer, and the abuses Filipinos are suffering in Kuwait.
There are at least 250,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait, according to government data.