Palace: PH-Kuwait ties back to normal


Posted at May 13 2018 09:59 AM

FILE PHOTO: Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from Kuwait arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, February 12, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS -CBN News

MANILA - The relationship of the Philippines and Kuwait has returned to normal after a diplomatic row over the treatment of Filipino workers, Malacañang said late Saturday. 

Philippine officials last month “rescued” distressed workers allegedly without coordinating with Kuwaiti officials, prompting the latter to banish Manila's ambassador. 

Improved ties between the 2 countries can be seen in Kuwait's move to sign a deal for the protection of overseas Filipino workers, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

"Normal na po ang samahan ng Philippines at Kuwait. Ang hinihintay lang po talaga ng parehong panig ay iyung paglagda ng memorandum of agreement," Roque told reporters at the airport after coming home from the Gulf State. 

(The Philippines' relationship with Kuwait is back to normal. Both sides were just waiting for the signing of a memorandum of agreement.) 

"Iyung paglagda pong iyan, 'yan ay senyales na we have both agreed to move on with our relationship at we have both learned from the experience. The experience will make our friendship and ties with Kuwait even stronger," he added. 

(That signing signals that both sides have agreed to move on with our relationship and that we have both learned from the experience.)

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The landmark accord provides for a standard template contract for workers. 

It also requires a 12-hour rest time for workers and bans the confiscation of their mobile phone and passport by employers. 

Also among the provisions of the deal are the creation of a 24/7 hotline where Filipino workers may report abuses and a special police unit to respond to such complaints. 
Talks for the pact began following a string of reported abuse and deaths of OFWs, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait in February. 

The incident prompted the Philippine government to suspend the deployment of Filipino workers to the Gulf state and initiate a repatriation program for those who would like to come home. 

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that he will urge President Rodrigo Duterte to lift the deployment ban. 

Bello and Roque on Saturday night returned to Manila with 87 distressed OFWs, the second batch to come home after the amnesty program ended on April 22. 

Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them domestic workers, according to the foreign ministry.