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Philippines president lifts ban on domestic workers to Kuwait

GDN Online Desk

A ban on domestic workers coming from the Philippines has been lifted, ending a months-long diplomatic standoff between Kuwait and Manila, Kuwait Times reported.

Manila has already lifted the ban on the deployment of semi-skilled and skilled OFWs to Kuwait after the two governments reached an agreement on protecting Filipinos working in Kuwait.

“Upon the recommendation of Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello to totally lift the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Domestic helpers from the Asian nation were banned from travelling to Kuwait for work in February.

Duterte ordered the ban following the gruesome murder of Filipina domestic helper Joanna Demafilis. Her body was found in a freezer in an apartment in Maidan Hawally.

The ban triggered a diplomatic row between Kuwait and the Philippines, further aggravated by social media videos of Philippines embassy staff rescuing allegedly abused maids from homes in Kuwait.

Kuwait condemned the incident and insisted this was a flagrant violation of its sovereignty. Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano apologised if the videos offended the sensibilities of Kuwait, which accepted the apology, but declared Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Rene Villa persona non grata and asked him to leave the country.

The following day, Duterte asked his nationals to return to the Philippines, stressing that the deployment ban on workers from the country will now be permanent.

But backdoor negotiations continued, and on Friday, Kuwait and the Philippines finally signed an agreement for the protection of OFWs. It was signed by the foreign ministers of both countries.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration deputy administrator Arnell Arevalo Ignacio is still in Kuwait to lay the groundwork after the ban on domestic helpers is lifted.

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