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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Duterte threatens to ban Filipinos from working in Kuwait over rape case

Kuwait is an ally, but abuse should not be tolerated, says Duterte 

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a message before departure from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Rolex Dela Pena / EPA
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a message before departure from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte warned on Wednesday that he may impose a permanent ban on sending workers to Kuwait and withdraw his countrymen working there if another Filipino domestic helper is raped and killed.

The comments were the second time in less than a week that Mr Duterte expressed anger about alleged abuse in Kuwait, where he said low-paid Filipinos were made to endure rape and starvation.

"Treat my countrymen as human beings with dignity," said the president.

Mr Duterte asked the governments of Kuwait and other Middle East countries, where more than a million Filipinos work, to take steps to end the abuse.

"I hope I am not committing a diplomatic faux pas. But one more incident ... I'm going to ban," he said in a speech before leaving for a regional summit in India.

"And I'm sorry, the Filipinos there, you can all go home," he said. "If you leave, they will also be having a hell of a time adjusting to that."

On Friday, the labour ministry suspended deployment of workers to Kuwait, a day after Mr Duterte said abuse had driven several domestic helpers to commit suicide.

Kuwait initially expressed surprise and said it was in touch with Manila to try to resolve the issue.

More than 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, the Philippine foreign ministry estimates, most of them as domestic helpers. There are also large numbers in the UUA, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Remittances by overseas Filipinos amount to more than $2 billion a month, keeping domestic demand robust in one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Mr Duterte said Kuwait is an ally, but abuse should not be tolerated.

"I hope that you listen to me," he said. "We may need your help, but we will not do it at the expense of the dignity of the Filipino."

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