Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

The Philippines Embassy in Kuwait yesterday notified the Kuwaiti government that President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Kuwait on April 30 – before Ramadan. Ambassador Renato Villa met foreign ministry officials yesterday morning to inform them of the date of the visit, noting that the date will not be confirmed until the Amiri Diwan approves it in accordance with HH the Amir’s scheduled obligations.

Meanwhile, the recent Kuwait-Philippines labor crisis has led to a 13.3 percent drop in remittances by Filipinos over the two past months – to $105.9 million.

Notably, the Philippines economy largely depends on remittances at a time when the Philippines currency – the peso – reached its lowest level, according to the Japanese Nikkei newspaper. The government of Philippines imposed a ban on sending workers to Kuwait following the murder of 29-year-old Joanna Demafelis, who went missing in Sept 2016. Her body was found in a freezer earlier this year, bearing signs of torture.

Last week Duterte said Kuwait had agreed to his demands to improve the working conditions of Filipinos, following negotiations between the two countries on a labor accord. One of his key demands is that Filipino workers be allowed to keep their mobile phones and passports – which can be confiscated by employers under current conditions.

Philippines Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said the memorandum of understanding will be signed before Ramadan, with Kuwait to improve the conditions of Filipino workers in Kuwait. Around 10 million Filipinos live and work abroad, including 250,000 in Kuwait.


By A Saleh and Agencies