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Duterte orders lifting of total deployment ban in Kuwait

17 May 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III Wednesday (May 16) to lift the deployment ban to Kuwait after the signing of an agreement to protect Filipino migrant workers.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the President heeded the recommendation of Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o to lift the deployment ban.

Kuwait and the Philippines signed a deal on Friday, following a huge diplomatic rift, that will see Manilla lift a ban on its nationals travelling to the Gulf state for work.

Aside from the labor deployment ban, which Duterte recently threatened to impose permanently, he also ordered the repatriation of thousands of Filipino workers facing problems in Kuwait.

The crisis deepened after Kuwaiti authorities in April expelled Manila's ambassador following the emergence of video footage showing a Philippine embassy staff member helping workers escape employers accused of mistreatment.

The Philippines is a major labor exporter, especially to the Middle East.

Kuwait is a major labor destination for Filipinos in the Middle East, with over 250,000 now working there, mostly as domestic helpers. About a tenth of the population works overseas, and the earnings they send home have bolstered the Philippine economy for decades.

Relations appeared to recover after a Kuwaiti court sentenced to death in absentia a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife for Demafelis's killing.

"A short time ago we signed an agreement between the two countries on the employment of domestic workers", Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah told a joint press conference with his Filipino counterpart Alan Peter Cayetano.

Duterte has said he wanted the agreement to guarantee that Filipina maids would have access to their passports and cellphones, not be fed leftover food and be allowed to have a break weekly.

But after the rescue videos were released by the Philippine foreign ministry, relations plunged again.

Kuwait sought to calm the confrontation a day later, calling it largely the result of a misunderstanding.

"Even our labour diplomacy has improved and our relationship and diplomatic ties are now stronger", Bello said on Wednesday.

Duterte orders lifting of total deployment ban in Kuwait