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Pinoy Abroad

Philippines won’t apologize to Kuwait for OFW shelters —DFA

The Philippines will not apologize for the shelters it provided distressed social workers fleeing their employers in Kuwait, the Department of Foreign Affairs has said.

According to JP Soriano's report on "24 Oras", this developed even after the country announced the indefinite suspension of visas for Filipino skilled workers.

It has also taken steps to enter into agreements with other countries that could provide migrant workers.

“Hindi tayo hihingi ng tawad..? Eh pinoprotektahan lang natin yung mga kababayan natin,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said.

(Why should we apologize..? We’re just protecting countrymen.)

The Kuwaiti government last week confirmed it suspended all new visas for OFWs “indefinitely” due to the Philippines’ reported violations of their bilateral labor agreement signed in 2018.

Among the violations, the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry said, are the housing workers in shelters, searching for runaways without involving state institutions, communicating with Kuwaiti citizens without permission from authorities, and pressuring Kuwaiti employers to add clauses to employment contracts.

The ban came three months after Manila suspended its deployment of household service workers to Kuwait due to cases of abuse, including the death of OFW Jullebee Ranara, a household service worker whose body was found burned in the middle of a desert in Kuwait.

She was reported to have been raped and impregnated by her employer's 17-year-old son.

“It’s their prerogative, they’re sovereign. They're free to do that and besides as far as migration is concerned we also recognize na the skills of the Filipinos have are at-par globally,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Paul Cortez said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier rejected the idea of imposing a total deployment ban against Kuwait, saying the Philippine government would continue to negotiate with the Gulf state to improve the situation.

For its part, the Department of Migrant Workers said several countries have expressed interest in employing skilled Filipino workers to fulfill their vacancies including Austria, Guam, Portugal, Romania, Saudi, Hungary, and United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia has announced that it needed over one million Filipino skilled workers in two years.

These include those in construction, hotel and restaurants, resorts, and healthcare workers.

“The estimate is one million new jobs for Filipino workers in 18 to 24 months so for filipino workers," DMW Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan said. —Sundy Locus/NB, GMA Integrated News