DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, February 9, proclaimed that he is prepared to take serious steps to preserve the lives of Filipinos working abroad amid the deaths of domestic workers in Kuwait.
In his press conference here, the Chief Executive lamented the death of a Filipina household service worker in Kuwait whose body was found a few days ago inside a freezer. The body bore torture marks and indications that she was strangled to death.
“But let me ask: When will this inhuman treatment of our Filipino workers end? When will the upliftment of their human dignity begin?” Duterte said.
“To the Kuwaiti government and all others where our OFWs work, we seek and expect your assistance in this regard,” the President said.
At the same time, he implored the Kuwaiti government to protect the Filipinos working in their country.
“We do not seek special treatment or privileges for our workers, but we do expect respect for their dignity and basic human rights. Keep them free from harm. I implore you. Nakikiusap ako sa lahat ng mga Arabo,” he said.
Duterte stressed that the Filipino is no slave to anyone, anywhere and everywhere.
The President also underscored that every unlawful physical injury that is inflicted on an OFW is an injury that he personally bears as the head of the country.
“If the Philippine government is reduced into helplessness because other foreign governments do not heed our requests to protect and give justice to our overseas Filipino workers within the limits that their laws allow, then let me say this both as a matter of personal conviction and national policy, that I am ready to take drastic steps that will help preserve Filipino life and limb,” he said.
“We do not intend to offend any government or anyone. But if a ban is what is needed, then let it be so,” President added.
Duterte announced that the ban on deployment of workers to Kuwait continues.
“The ban continues today and I don’t know up to what time. I declared it early this morning because I was reading this report… hindi ko na masikmura,” he said, adding, “It is totally, totally unacceptable to me.”
During the press conference, the President cited a data which showed that there were 82 reported deaths of OFWs in 2016 and 103 last year.
He also mentioned the case of Jakatia Pawa who died in a hospital in January last year after a severe beating at the hands of her Kuwait employer.
Meanwhile, President Duterte said he would ask two airlines to provide transportation for OFWs who wants to come home.
“So everyone who wants to come home, I said to Secretary Bello, those who want to be repatriated with or without money, I will ask PAL and Cebu Pacific to provide the transportation. I want them out of the country, those who want to go out, in 72 hours,” he said.