According to the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, the Philippine President will be visiting the Gulf State by the end of April to finalize the bilateral agreement concerning the protection and welfare of OFWs based in Kuwait in a statement shared by Ambassador Renato Villa during a meeting with Kuwaiti Ministry officials last April 16.
The Philippie President’s visit will still have to be confirmed based on the approval coming from the Amiri Diwan, in accordance with His Highness the Amir’s set agendas in preparation for the holy month of Ramadan this May.
Duterte to Head for Kuwait by End of April to Finalize MoU for the Protection of OFWs
The Philippine President’s scheduled visit was organized in the hopes of finally sorting the labour standstill between the Philippines and the Gulf State which had been prompted by the discovery of the murdered body of the 29-year old Filipina domestic helper inside a freezer last January.
Without a doubt, the economy of the Philippines has largely depended on the remittances for many years already, especially during the time when the Philippine Peso has reached its lowest level.
Pres. Duterte mentioned that Kuwait had acceded to his demands to lay out regulations to safeguard the working conditions of OFWs in the Gulf State. One of Duterte’s demands includes the Filipino workers’ right to retain their mobile phones and passports, which may be taken away by their employers under the current labour conditions in Kuwait.
Because of these labour issues and the murder of the Filipina domestic helper, Joanna Demafelis, who had gone missing in September 2016, and whose body was found frozen and dead bearing signs of abuse inside a freezer of an abandoned apartment in Kuwait, the Philippine government had imposed a labour ban on Kuwait in February of this year.
The labour crisis, in effect, has led to a 13.3 per cent dip in remittances by OFWs in the past two months amounting to $105.9 million only.
According to Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) is set to be signed before Ramadan, if HH, the Amir’s schedule accommodates President Duterte’s visit in the Gulf State by the end of April. There are over 10 million Filipinos working overseas, and an estimated 250,000 based in Kuwait.