Number of Filipino politicians criticize president’s decision

Suspension should only be tied to cases of emergency

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 31: A number of Filipino politicians, writers and officials through the Philippine newspapers and media have criticized the Philippine president’s decision to suspend the employment of Filipino workers to Kuwait under the pretext of ‘violations’ committed against Filipino workers, which have been denied by Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reports Al-Qabas daily.

The Manila Times published an article by writer Francisco S. Tatad in which he has strongly criticized the decision of the president and said: “In case of emergencies, affecting the safety and well-being of the public as a whole, the government may suspend the posting of Overseas Filipino Workers (OPWs) in a certain destination. “This happened in places like Libya during the Arab Spring. But it is absurd to threaten the recall of all OFWs in a particular jurisdiction just because of one or two incidents in which the state as such had absolutely no involvement.

“Kuwait is a country of 4.2 million people, of whom 1.3 million are Kuwaitis, and 2.9 million expatriates. Of the 2.9 million, an estimated 250,000 are Filipinos. Should any Filipino ever figure in any crime, whether as perpetrator or as victim, the first thing our government should do is to investigate and determine all the facts before making a statement,” Tatad added.

Philippine News quoted an unnamed senior diplomat as saying: “I disagreed with the Philippine government’s handling of the Philippine employment issue in Kuwait, and that the president or any other government official may be ill-advised in making hasty pronouncements without prior consultations with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Kuwait.

The Inquirer Newspaper went a mile further and published an article by Tess E. Manzano, under the title ‘Stopping the Filipinos from leaving’ in which he strongly criticized the decision of the Philippine President who called on the workers in Kuwait to return to their homeland.

Manzano said: “Wasn’t it only some decades ago during the Iraq war when our government offered to repatriate Filipino housekeepers with a majority of them preferring to stay in those Muslim countries?” “Is it lack of education or of information about abusive foreign employers that drives so many Filipinos to slavery overseas? Doesn’t it denote a lack of faith and hope in this nation’s leaders for countless women to leave their families to work in danger zones abroad?” he asked.

“Has a study been made to see how our economy would fare if remittances were to end,” he wondered. A group of recruitment agencies in Manila has warned of a massive drop in dollar remittances amounting to over $1.3 billion if the government pushes through with a permanent deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait.

Over 270,000 documented workers are now employed in Kuwait. A permanent deployment ban will also harm our friendly relations with the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar and Yemen which together play host to 1.5 million Filipinos who bring in the bulk of our dollar remittances yearly to almost $28 billion.

The families of the 270,000 workers in Kuwait are apprehensive over the continuous barrage of statements from President Rodrigo Duterte that he would not hesitate to issue a permanent deployment ban to Kuwait if the Filipino workers are not treated humanely.

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