KUWAIT — A top Kuwaiti official condemned President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to evacuate Filipino workers from the Middle East state, suggesting this could damage ties between the two countries.
The government has repatriated hundreds of overseas Filipinos from Kuwait after Duterte ordered their repatriation last week, after the discovery of the body of a migrant worker in a freezer.
The Philippines suspended sending workers to Kuwait in January after reports that abuse by employers had driven several to suicide.
Two planes full of workers arrived in Manila from Kuwait on Monday on flights provided for free by commercial airlines at Duterte’s request. On Sunday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said more than 2,200 Filipinos were ready to take up Duterte’s offer.
“We are surprised and we condemn statements from the Philippine president, especially as we are in contact with the Philippines on a high level to explain the workers’ conditions in Kuwait,” said Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah.
He was speaking at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting in Kuwait of the global coalition against Islamic State.
“Escalation does not serve the ties between Kuwait and the Philippines,” Sheikh Sabah said, adding that 170,000 Filipinos “live a decent life in Kuwait … but separate accidents unfortunately happen, and we are providing our Filipino counterparts with the results of the investigations.”