MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday outlined some of his demands to the Kuwaiti government regarding how Filipino domestic helpers should be treated, as the Philippines and Kuwait work on a deal to end a row triggered by the killing of a Filipina employee in the Arab state.
Duterte said he was late for the graduation exercises of the Philippine National Police Academy’s Maragtas Class of 2018 in Silang, Cavite because he had to help Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III draft the final output of Manila’s demands to Kuwait.
The President said he wants his demands to be included in a bilateral deal that Manila and Kuwait will sign.
“I demanded that it will be a contract of government-to- government and that there will be some mandatory provisions like they [domestic helpers] should be allowed to sleep for 7 hours a day, fed nutritious food. We will not allow leftovers to be eaten by our countrymen,” Duterte said.
The President said he will no longer allow the practice of Kuwaiti employers confiscating the passports of Filipino domestic helpers. He said workers should be allowed to enjoy holidays.
“I have said that we are not slaves. Maybe our only fault is that we are poor,” the President said in a mix of Filipino and English.
In another speech in Pasay City before his supporters, Duterte said he will not order the lifting of the deployment ban if Kuwait will not agree to his conditions.
Duterte earlier banned the deployment of new Filipino workers to Kuwait following the death of domestic helper Joanna Demafelis allegedly at the hands of her employers.
Bello said the Philippines will not lift the deployment ban until justice is obtained for Demafelis.
The President last month said he might also impose a deployment ban of Filipino workers to other countries if investigations showed Filipinos were being abused by their employers.