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‘They deserve better treatment’

Rodrigo Duterte is the current President of the Philippines, and the sixteenth. I preferred to be over familiar when addressing him, after it became clear to me that we were born in the same month and same year. Duterte is the first Filipino president from the island of Mindanao, which is forgotten by the central government, in which ethnic and religious unrest for many years has occurred, and from this comes the majority of Filipino Muslim workers, which constitute about 25% of its population.

Duterte studied political science at the University of the Philippines, graduated and worked as a lawyer, and later as the attorney general of Davao City in Mindanao, before becoming vice mayor and mayor of the city, in the aftermath of the (People Power) Revolution in the Philippines in 1986, and remaining in office for twenty-two years.

Duterte’s success is due to his firmness, and his support for the idea of extrajudicial killing of drug users and other criminals, and he never made a secret of his relationship to the issue before he became president, especially since he promised his voters in 2016 to eliminate crime and drug abuse, and he succeeded in that, and the Philippines is now safer.

Our relationship with the Philippines witnessed tensions during his reign, as his government threatened to prevent Filipinos from working in Kuwait, whenever any of their citizens were subjected to ill treatment or a painful accident.

We witnessed a period of prohibition, bans, and permits, and the majority of their threats were for local electoral consumption, and to show their jealousy for the well-being and interests of their citizens.

Millions of Filipinos work in various professions in the Gulf countries, and it is difficult to imagine life without them not only because of the quality of their work and their reasonable knowledge of the English language, but also because of their multiple skills and relative honesty and their cleanliness.

The Philippines gets its main income from hard currency from the remittances of millions of Filipinos working abroad. These transfers amount to approximately $25 billion annually, of which more than four billion are from Gulf countries.

The passport of a Filipino nanny who works for a friend has expired, so he asked her to visit her country’s embassy. She did it five times, and each time she came back hours later, exhausted and tired without completing the work.

She was advised that she should prepare herself to stand in line for a full day and she got permission from the employer, and left the house at 9:30 am on Saturday 28/11, and returned at 6:30 pm the next day, on the verge of collapse, after standing for more than a day and a half in a line without eating or drinking, not even providing toilets holding the passport renewal documents, which takes no more than two minutes to prepare.

Here, we wonder: Where has the Philippine government’s concern for the safety and welfare of its citizens gone? Why this insistence to treat them like sheep, when they really deserve better treatment? And not using online system to process their transactions especially since a majority of these people are creative in using smartphones?

We put questions at the disposal of the Philippine government, which has never hesitated to threaten us with the withdrawal of its citizens, if we do not treat them well, at the same time it does not hesitate to abuse their most basic rights and humanity.

 We extend our sincere condolences to the Al-Bakr family on the death of our friend Siraj Al-Bakr, the first who volunteered to work with us in the Human Friendship Society as Director General.

e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf

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