THE Philippines may extend the ban on the deployment of workers to countries other than Kuwait because of the rising cases of abuse and maltreatment of Filipino domestic helpers, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night.
In a speech before the Filipino-Chinese businessmen, Duterte said most Filipinas working abroad suffered hardship and were being punished for doing their work, which impelled him to ban the deployment of workers to Kuwait.
“The ban will continue and it will extend to other countries. It would be difficult for them. Well, I’m asking for forgiveness. I have no intention to bring you there to be abused. That’s not my style,” Duterte said.
On Tuesday, a Filipino worker who went missing in Saudi Arabia was found comatose in a hospital in Kuwait, 647 kilometers away.
Relatives of Norisa Manambit, 36, discovered her location and condition through a Facebook post by a Filipino nurse in Kuwait.
The Filipino nurse posted a video in hope that Manambit’s relatives would learn of her situation.
Migrant groups say there are more than 5,000 distressed Filipino workers in different countries in the Middle East, with Kuwait having the highest number being housed in Philippine overseas workers centers. Most of them are victims of verbal, phsyical or sexual abuse.
Addressing himself to millions of Filipino workers in the Middle East, Duterte said he would not allow his countrymen to become slaves.
“If you are a slave or you are a paid worker, the treatment is always the same. Work hard, then raped. She cleans the house. Then she goes to another house to the sister-in-law of the family to clean the house and another house,” the President said.
“That’s why I’m suspending and it will continue. Will it involve hardships? Yes. Will it involve sacrifice? Yes. Would it mean anger? Yes. To me, yes. Let’s accept it. If they lose their job, yes. I’m ready to admit everything but the ban stands. Umuwi lang kayo dito maski na papaano matulungan ko kayo maski sa pagkain
[Just come home and no matter what, I will help you, even feed you],” he said.
He again cited China as a possible market for Filipinos who can teach English.
“We, Orientals, do not do that. We do not inflict brutality and cruelty on our fellow human. Most of us are Buddhist,” he said.
“The only thing that we ask is that you give us the dignity of a human being, you treat us humanely, be tolerant of our cultural differences and do not abuse our women because it will inflict a long and lasting wound. Maybe this generation cannot and will not forget it.”
In an interview on Catholic Church-owned radio dxND, Lady May Besa, a niece of the worker found comatose in Kuwait, said she reported her aunt missing to her agency in January, after weeks of failing to communicate with her.
Her last communication with her aunt, Besa said, was in the last quarter of 2017.
Manambit left the country in 2017 to work as household worker in Saudi Arabia.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is still verifying the said report.
Besa said she was surprised to learn that her aunt was in Kuwait.
“How can that be? We were so sure she went to Dammam, Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Besa said Manambit’s friend in Saudi Arabia said her aunt had a heated argument with her employer in January when her boss caught her using a mobile phone.
This led to a fight that led Manambit’s employer to call the police, who detained her aunt.
But Manambit’s friend said that when they went to visit her in jail, they did not find her there.
After that conversation, Besa sought help from Manambit’s agency in the Philippines.
A staff of the agency begged Besa not to report the incident to the media or to the government while they were still looking for Manambit.
“But weeks had passed and we were not given the information that we need,” Besa said. “The agency has promised to update us on my aunt’s case. But until now, they would only give us false promises.”
She said the agency also failed to inform them about Manambit’s real health condition.
Besa then opted to seek help from media, after Joanna Demafelis, a Filipino worker, was found dead inside a freezer in Kuwait.
Also on Tuesday, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority said it will give assistance to returning Filipino workers through its free technical-vocational courses.
Tesda Director-General Guiling Mamondiong directed all regional, provincial, district directors and TTI administrators to give retraining assistance to returning workers from Kuwait who will be affected by the total deployment ban to Kuwait, which started Feb. 19. With Jun David