MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday confirmed that Kuwait has invited President Rodrigo Duterte for a visit, amid issues involving the treatment of Filipino domestic helpers in the Gulf state.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s trip to Kuwait “is in the offing” after the chief executive met with Kuwait Ambassador to the Philippines Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh.
Roque said he does not know what Duterte’s agenda will be during his trip, but he presumed that the invitation was the Kuwaiti government’s way of addressing the President’s concerns over the situation of Filipino domestic helpers working in the Gulf state.
“I guess Kuwait wants to assure the President that Philippine nationals are protected in Kuwait,” Roque said in a news conference.
Duterte earlier ordered a suspension of deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait following the deaths of Filipinos there.
He had also said all Filipinos in Kuwait might as well go back home if another Filipino worker dies in the Gulf state.
Duterte added he might knock on China’s doors to accommodate displaced Filipino workers.
“One more incident about a woman, a Filipina being raped there, I’m going to stop, I’m going to ban,” Duterte said in a speech late last month.
In a recent development, the Kuwait Times reported that a woman, thought to be a Filipina domestic helper, was found dead inside the freezer of an apartment in Salmiya City, Kuwait.
The report quoted Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Rene Villa as saying he was unaware of the case until he was contacted by Kuwait Times, and that there was still a need to verify if the woman was indeed a Filipina.
More than 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, the Philippine foreign ministry estimates, most of them as domestic helpers. There are also large numbers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Remittances by overseas Filipinos amount to more than $2 billion a month, keeping domestic demand robust in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. - with Reuters