Marcos rejects proposed total deployment ban to Kuwait over visa issue

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2023 11:24 AM

Kuwait International Airport. EPA-EFE/file
Kuwait International Airport. EPA-EFE/file

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Friday thumbed down a proposal to impose a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait, which he said would be an "overreaction" to its suspension of visas for new OFWs. 

Marcos said he was "never very comfortable" with completely stopping the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait. 

"I don’t want to burn any bridges na sasabihin na baka in the future, baka in a little while, a few months from now, a year from now, sasabihin magbago ang sitwasyon, eh baka pwede pa tayong magpadala ulit ng ating mga workers sa Kuwait," Marcos said. 

"Kaya, I don’t know, yung sometimes overreaction yung iba, basta't ban lang tayo ng ban, hindi naman tama," he told reporters at the celebration of the Philippine Navy's 125th anniversary in Manila. 

(Perhaps in the future, in a little while, a few months from now, a year from now, the situation would change and we would need to send workers again to Kuwait. That is why I don't know, sometimes people overreact, we keep on banning things even though it's not the right move.)
The Kuwaiti government earlier this month imposed an entry ban on Filipinos without a residence permit due to the Philippines' alleged non-compliance to a labor agreement.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said news reports suggested that this might have been a response to the Philippines' creation of a “resource center” in the Arab state. 

In response, a lawmaker proposed the total deployment ban of Filipino workers to the Arab state, citing the previous abuse of some OFWs.

"Hindi kami (Kuwait) nagkakasundo dahil sinasabi nila may paglalabag daw tayo sa kanilang mga rules, wala naman kaming nakikita, kaya't yan ang naging situation," Marcos said. 

But the President said the country must "react to the situation as it is."

"I think the proper reaction is to take the decision of the Kuwaiti government to no longer issue new visas... It’s their country, those are their rules, so we will just leave that issue open and hopefully we will continue to negotiate with them," Marcos said. 

"We will continue to consult with them at baka sakali down the road magbago ang sitwasyon, maibalik ngayon ang ating mga workers, lalo na yung mga nabitin... So hopefully down the road we will continue to work to improve that situation," he said. 

(Perhaps down the road, the situation will change and our workers can return, especially those who deployment did not push through.) 

Kuwait's entry ban has so far affected around 800 Filipino workers. 

Kuwait hosts around 275,000 to 300,000 Filipinos, most of them household workers while some are in the hotel, restaurant, and healthcare industries.