KUWAIT CITY, April 14: Visiting Migrant Workers Affairs Undersecretary at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Sarah Lou Y Arriola confirmed that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be visiting Kuwait, the moment the Philippines and Kuwait are all set to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Protection and Deployment of Filipino Household Service Workers (HSWs) to Kuwait.
Speaking on Pinoy Arabia FM at the Marina Mall on Saturday, Arriola pointed out that the Philippine delegation is still waiting for its Kuwaiti counterpart for the second joint bilateral talks to discuss and finalize the unified contract for Filipino HSWs. “We are waiting for Kuwait. There were positive developments already. Our President has already manifested his interest to come here. We don’t know when it is. It all depends on the results of the second joint bilateral talks. We really have to polish the agreement that includes the labor agreement, the unified contract. We are just waiting for Kuwait to tell us when is the second round of talks,” she explained.
Arriola was accompanied at the station by Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa, Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) Executive Director, OUMWA Officer Laser Blitz Sumagaysay, Vice Consul Charleson Hermosura, Administrative Officer Girlie Caba and other embassy officials.
Arriola expressed the Philippine government’s gratitude to Kuwait for its goodwill and utmost cooperation. “We are thankful that the Kuwait government has been good to us. They have been listening to us and we appreciate their willingness to sit down and talk. We are very confident that things will work out soon. It’s just a matter of time. At our level, we are preparing the ground for the President’s visit that’s why we keep on coming back to Kuwait. There are just things that need to be polished. We just want to ensure the safety of all OFWs here,” she stressed.
She added that the deployment ban will only be lifted once the President wants it lifted. “We have to trust in the leadership of the president. The result of these negotiations will also be the stand of the Philippines to the rest of the world. Let’s be a little more patient,” pointed out Arriola as she appealed for understanding and apologised to those affected by the deployment ban.
The DFA Undersecretary who is visiting Kuwait for the second time arrived here on Friday with additional members of the DFA Augmentation team to assist the Philippine Embassy in the repatriation of undocumented Overseas Filipino Workers in Kuwait who availed the amnesty given by the Kuwait government. “So far we have repatriated 4,175 undocumented OFWs and there are still 563 awaiting their repatriation. We will bring them home and to all those who want to go home as instructed by our President,” stated Arriola.
She added that those who still want to file their amnesty application may do so at the Philippine Embassy despite the deadline for filing set last April 12 by the embassy.
Arriola disclosed that more Philippine government officials will be visiting Kuwait by next week before the amnesty ends on April 22 that will include members of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) led by Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson to look into the repatriation of undocumented OFWs.
Aside from the undocumented OFWs, Arriola also vowed to help the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in the repatriation of more than a thousand distressed HSWs housed at the POLO-OWWA shelters in Al Siddique and Surra respectively who were mostly victims of various forms of sexual, verbal or physical abuse, non-payment of salaries, lack of food and overwork.
Meanwhile, some members of the DFA Augmentation Team have also embarked on rescue missions in cooperation with Kuwait police authorities to help extract distressed HSWs from the house of abusive employers. Finally, Arriola announced that the Philippine Embassy is organising a Filipino Community solidarity gathering on April 20 at a venue and time to be announced later.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff