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Nagdalawang isip: Duterte has two minds about going to Kuwait

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President Rodrigo Duterte is still weighing whether to push through his plan to visit Kuwait, Malacanang said on Tuesday.

“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.

Roque said Duterte’s trip would depend on how the Kuwait government would act on the case of Filipinas who were maltreated and abused by their employers.

“That (trip) is still being studied because we are waiting for signs from Kuwait government on how they will provide justice for our countrymen who were victims of abuses in Kuwait,” he said.

Roque said under the international law, every country had an obligation to protect and give justice to the migrant workers.

He said the Philippines was now looking for alternative countries where the Filipinos who opted to leave Kuwait could find new jobs.

“Our priority are those countries who already signed International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention that recognize the rights of the migrant workers,” Roque said.

“We are looking for countries like Oman and Bahrain which have no records of abuses against our fellow Filipinos,” he added.

Roque, meanwhile, clarified that Duterte’s order to bring home Filipinos in Kuwait is not mandatory.

“If those who are working in Kuwait want to stay, the decision is up to them. But if they are maltreated, President Duterte will not allow foreigners to abuse them like animals,” Roque said.

Duterte is set to welcome 127 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from Kuwait on Tuesday night at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.

Duterte will lead the ceremonial distribution of PHP5,000 immediate financial assistance for each OFW amnesty availee.

Aside from PHP5,000, Roque said OFWs who voluntarily opt to be repatriated would receive an additional PHP20,000 as livelihood aid from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

On Friday, the President ordered the ban on deployment of OFWs to Kuwait after the body of a migrant Filipina worker Joanna Daniela Demafelis was found in a freezer.

Duterte made the decision three days after he met with Kuwait ambassador to the Philippines Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh at Malacanang Palace. (PNA)