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Philippines’ Duterte to visit Kuwait after worker row

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has in the past accused Gulf employers of treating Filipino workers poorly
AFP

Hong Kong (China) (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he would visit Kuwait to seal a labour deal, in a sign of easing tensions after a diplomatic row over the alleged mistreatment of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

Duterte had lashed out at Kuwait in February, imposing a departure ban on Filipinos planning to work there after the murder of a Filipina maid, whose body was found in a freezer.

The Philippine president said Thursday that Kuwait had agreed to his demands to improve the working conditions for Filipinos, following negotiations between the two countries on an accord.

“To give honour also to the Kuwaiti government, I will go there for the signing (ceremony) just to witness it,” Duterte said in a speech during a visit to Hong Kong.

He did not say when he will travel to Kuwait.

Authorities in Manila say around 252,000 Filipinos work in the Gulf state, many as maids. They are among over two million Filipinos employed in the region, whose remittances are a lifeline to the Philippine economy.

Duterte’s departure ban sparked a diplomatic flap. He alleged that Arab employers routinely raped their Filipina workers, forced them to work 21 hours a day and feeding them scraps.

One of his demands is that Filipino workers be allowed to keep their cellphones and passports, which can be confiscated by employers under current conditions.

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