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Philippines imposes 'total ban' on citizens taking up jobs in Kuwait

A group of recruitment companies expressed support on the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend the suspension of the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait

The move came after Mr Duterte last month barred Filipinos from seeking work in Kuwait, although the ban exempted those who had already secured permission to work there.

"We condemn the statements of the Philippine president, especially since we are in contact with the Philippines at the highest level to fully explain the state of the Filipino workforce in Kuwait", he said.

Duterte is set to welcome 127 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from Kuwait on Tuesday night at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1. He called on Kuwait to provide legal redress to Filipino victims of what he called "horrendous crimes".

No spokesman or diplomat from the Kuwaiti embassy in Manila was immediately available to comment.

A group of recruitment companies expressed support for Duterte's decision, which Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is expected to formalize with a department order to be issued Monday.

"A communication was sent to our welfare officers in Kuwait, and there was a follow-up email on March 17, 2017, and what happened thereafter is that our welfare officers ascertained the existence of the Kuwaiti agency", Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) administrator Hans Cacdac told CNN Philippines' News Night on Monday.

Every abuse committed against an OFW is an affront against us as a sovereign nation.

The Philippine foreign affairs department said on Monday that authorities were repatriating 10,000 overstaying Filipinos from Kuwait under an amnesty programme arranged with the Kuwaiti government. Eight-hundred of them are arriving in the country this week.

Philippine ambassador to Kuwait Rene Villa told the publication that the ministries had assured him if the suspects were in Lebanon they could be extradited within "probably two weeks" but it would be "very hard" for police to make arrests if they had fled to Syria.

The BusinessMirror earlier reported that some 25,000 household service workers were also left stranded in the country because of the ban.

Last Friday, Mr Duterte hit out at Kuwait as he brandished photos reportedly of a Filipina maid, Joanna Daniela Demafelis, found in a freezer in Hawally, a residential area that is home to a large Arab expatriate population. "But if a ban is what is needed, let it be so", said Duterte.

The body showed signs of torture and broken bones meaning she was killed before being placed in the freezer, he confirmed.

"I could not stomach this".

Arman Hernando, head of Migrante-Philippines, a migrant workers' group, said the ban would serve as a wake-up call for the Kuwaiti government to respect Filipino workers. We do not intend to offend any government or anyone.

Reaching a dead-end, the OWWA administrator said authorities stopped the search for the missing domestic worker.