Du30 lifts Kuwait ban; 3 diplo­mats free to go

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - —RE­PORTS FROM CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO, JEROME ANING, DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN, KRIXIA SUBING SUBING AND REUTERS

Kuwait has agreed to with­draw its ar­rest war­rants against the three Filipino diplo­mats wanted in con­nec­tion with the con­tro­ver­sial res­cue of dis­tressed Filipino house­maids after Pres­i­dent Duterte or­dered the to­tal lift­ing of the de­ploy­ment ban of work­ers to the Gulf state.

La­bor Sec­re­tary Sil­vestre Bello III an­nounced the de­vel­op­ment on Thurs­day and said the diplo­mats were ex­pected to ar­rive in Manila on Fri­day night.

The Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs (DFA) did not iden­tify the three diplo­mats who had been threat­ened with ar­rest by Kuwait au­thor­i­ties since April 20. They were said to have sought refuge in the Philip­pine Em­bassy.

Sources at the DFA named the three as Raul Dado, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of the Un­der­sec­re­tary for Mi­grant Work­ers Af­fairs; Muam­marHas­san, an of­fi­cer at the Of­fice of the Un­der­sec­re­tary for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Re­la­tions; and Fran­cis Baquiran, an of­fi­cer at the As­sis­tance to Na­tion­als of­fice.

Mr. Duterte or­dered the to­tal lift­ing of the ban after the Philip­pines and Kuwait agreed on mea­sures to reg­u­late em­ploy­ment fol­low­ing a diplo­matic row over the al­leged abuse of house­maids.

Rec­om­mended ac­tion

The Philip­pines sus­pended the de­ploy­ment of work­ers to the Gulf state in Jan­uary.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Harry Roque said Mr. Duterte gave in­struc­tions to Bello to lift the ban after talk­ing with his spe­cial en­voy to Kuwait, Ab­dul­lah Mama-o, who rec­om­mended the ac­tion to nor­mal­ize the sit­u­a­tion.

Kuwait or­dered Am­bas­sador Re­nato Pe­dro Villa to leave the Gulf state within a week last month, fol­low­ing the em­bassy res­cue op­er­a­tion that an­gered Kuwaitis.

The DFA said skilled work­ers had been al­lowed to re­turn to Kuwait on Tues­day and that the order had now been ex­tended to do­mes­tic helpers.

Mr. Duterte had sought more pro­tec­tion for Filipino maids after the dis­cov­ery of the death of Joanna De­mafe­lis whose muti- lated body was found in a freezer at the home of her em­ployer in Kuwait more than a year after she went miss­ing.

Still iron­ing out de­tails

Even as the Pres­i­dent an­nounced the lift­ing of the ban, Filipinos wish­ing to go to Kuwait can’t do so just yet as the two gov­ern­ments have yet to iron out the de­tails of the me­moran­dum of agree­ment (MOA) meant to pro­tect the work­ers’ wel­fare.

Ar­nel Ig­na­cio, Over­seas Work­ers’ Wel­fare Ad­min­is­tra- tion chief, said that the two states were ex­pected to start dis­cus­sions on the ac­cord’s im­ple­ment­ing rules and reg­u­la­tions only after Ra­madan.

Party-list Rep. Ber­nadette Her­rera-Dy, chair of the House com­mit­tee on women and gen­der equal­ity, wel­comed the Pres­i­dent’s move, say­ing that the la­bor depart­ment should ad­dress the con­cerns on the MOA with the Kuwaiti au­thor­i­ties.

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