Philippines expands ban for workers in Kuwait

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Philippines expands ban for workers in Kuwait

Kuwait's foreign minister tried to calm anger in the Philippines on Tuesday after a Filipina worker was found dead in a freezer, hoping to defuse an ordered "total ban" on workers coming to the small, oil-rich nation.

Duterte has also offered assistance to Filipinos wanting to leave Kuwait and keep the ban on the deployment of workers due to concerns on abuse and exploitation.

"As of now, there still no assurance if that trip to Kuwait will push through", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing held in Tabuk, Kalinga. He called on Kuwait to provide legal redress to Filipino victims of what he called "horrendous crimes".

"And, of course, if Kuwait fails in this regard, then it will ensure worldwide responsibility for an internationally wrongful act", Roque said.

The move came after Mr Duterte last month barred Filipinos from seeking work in Kuwait, although the ban exempted those who had already secured permission to work there.

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa said about 10,000 Filipino workers are overstaying in that country.

Kuwait's embassy in Manila declined to comment.

Cebu Pacific said in a press statement that they are now working with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait on the final travel settlements. Eight-hundred of them are arriving in the country this week.

"If those who are working in Kuwait want to stay, the decision is up to them".

Filipina migrant workers protest in Hong Kong.

Displaced Filipino domestic helpers from Kuwait could consider taking on jobs that will become available once government projects are rolled out under its priority infrastructure program, dubbed as "Build, Build, Build".

Aside from Demafelis, the death of seven other Filipino household workers in Kuwait are also being investigated.

The body showed signs of torture and broken bones meaning she was killed before being placed in the freezer, he confirmed.

Some 103 OFW died in Kuwait in 2017 and 82 in 2016.

Meanwhile, Kuwait's interior ministry denied on Monday social media reports that security personnel escorted Filipino domestic workers from citizens' houses against their will.

Pawa's story had made headlines in the Philippines, especially after tests revealed the DNA retrieved from the murder weapon did not match hers.

The Philippines is one of the primary sources of domestic workers overseas, including Singapore, China's Hong Kong and Middle East countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. "This is a national shame and yet we proclaim the OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] the modern-day heroes of the republic". Duterte said he does not seek special treatment or privileges for Filipino workers but expect respect for the persons' dignity and human rights.

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