MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos said the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait would end
“At that very quick, very short meeting, we agreed to continue to discuss some of the obstacles in our relationship in terms of the bans that we had imposed for employment. And he (Kuwaiti Crown Prince) was very, very effusive in saying that we should remove all of those and we should continue as we had done before, which is a very important development,” Marcos said in his speech as he arrived from Saudi Arabia yesterday.
President Marcos had a brief meeting with Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on the sidelines of the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Gulf Cooperation Council (ASEAN-GCC) Summit in Saudi Arabia.
“For a few months now, we have had to ban the deployment of Filipino workers in Kuwait. Now that will end, we will now return to the normal state of affairs with the Kuwaiti government,” he added.
Marcos said the Kuwaiti government has moved “very quickly” and has started discussions on the matter at the ministerial and ambassadorial level.
In an interview with Filipino journalists in Saudi Arabia, Marcos said the crown prince apologized to him and clarified that he was against the action taken by the Kuwaiti government against the Philippines.
In May, Kuwait suspended the issuance of entry and work visas to Filipinos due to the Philippines’ supposed non-compliance with the labor agreement between the two countries.
Kuwait also asked Manila to apologize and admit what it considers several employment violations in the Philippine embassy, including housing workers in shelters, searching for runaways without involving state institutions and communicating with Kuwaiti citizens without permission from authorities.
Kuwait’s move came after the Philippine government temporarily banned the deployment of first-time household service workers to Kuwait following the killing of Jullebee Ranara, whose burnt corpse was found in the desert in January.
“We will fix it and we will make it because we love the Philippines,” Marcos said, quoting the crown prince.
Marcos considered this as one of the successes of his trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the first ASEAN-GCC Summit.
“I tell our colleagues that our trip is worth it just for that because we have fixed the problem on Kuwait, which is really giving us a headache as to how to address it. This is one of the, shall we say, successes that we can record from this trip,” the Chief Executive said.
Saudi Arabia has assured President Marcos that they will settle the unpaid salaries of over 10,000 Filipino workers who were left jobless after their companies in the kingdom declared bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016.
“That (payment of unpaid wages) is now being processed,” Marcos told Filipino reporters before flying back to Manila, noting that the list of claimants has been verified.
When asked for the date of the release of Filipino workers’ claims, Marcos responded, “I cannot say because it also depends on the internal processes in Saudi Arabia.”
“But, again, I know for a fact that they will be paid. It’s just a question of when,” he said.
Marcos and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the inaugural ASEAN-GCC Summit.
Last year, the Saudi Crown Prince committed some 2 billion riyals for the unpaid Filipino workers during his bilateral meeting with Marcos at the APEC Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
“But in concept, in principle, they will proceed with the payment of insurance claims of the workers of these companies that went bankrupt. So, that will continue to go. We will be able to finish that,” he said.
“Discussions with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud covered various areas of cooperation, including economic ties, labor relations and energy cooperation,” the Presidential Communications Office said.
The Philippines will also continue to work to maintain its good relations with Saudi Arabia to ensure the protection of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos living and working in the kingdom, President Marcos said, addressing the Filipino community at the InterContinental Hotel in Saudi Arabia late Friday night.
“Part of our visit here is to talk with our friends in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East to ensure that Filipinos in the region are in good condition,” the President said.
He also urged them to continue their role as cultural ambassadors and show the people of the world the kindness and warmth of the Filipinos.
“You have all contributed to the promotion of the Philippines as a remarkable tourist destination,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is home to more than 760,000 Filipinos.