By Genalyn Kabiling
The deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait would remain in effect until certain conditions on additional protection for workers are met, President Duterte bared on Tuesday.
Included in the President’s proposals to Kuwait are the provision of adequate food and sleep to Filipino workers and not subjecting them to sexual abuse.
“The ban stays until I meet the guys and talk,” the President said during the oath-taking of new officials of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission in Malacañang.
“One is that ‘wag ninyongkunin ‘yung passport ng Pilipina. Kinukuha nila ‘yung passport eh. Pangalawa, bigyan ninyong panahon matulog.Bigyan ninyong pagkain kasi ‘pag hindi…. Pang-apat, ‘wag ninyong – kasi ang Pilipina hindi ‘yan para – hindutin ninyo [One is that you should not confiscate the passport of the Filipina. They’re getting their passports. Second, you should give them enough time to sleep. You should also give them food because if not, you are a son of a b*tch. Fourth, Filipinas are not there to be sexually abused],” he added.
If the workers’ conditions are not improved, the President is inclined to urge other Filipinos to leave Kuwait and return home.
“Ngayon, ‘pag wala ‘yan, sorry. Umuwi kayo dito, bahala na, pobre tayo [Now, if these are not met, sorry. Just go home. Come what may even if we’re poor],” he said.
Duterte assured that the government would provide assistance to displaced workers, including allowances. “Eh ‘di hati-hatiin natin ‘yang pera. Eh ibigay ko ‘yan, ‘yung allowance [Let’s divide the money. I’ll give you some allowance],” he said.
The President recently authorized a ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait following reports of brutal deaths and other abuses committed against some Filipinos.
Duterte’s anger reached fever pitch following the discovery of a dead Filipina worker inside a freezer in her employers’ apartment more than a year after she was reported missing. Two suspects behind the death of Joanna Demafelis have already been arrested amid the Philippine government’s appeals for justice.
“Hindi ko matiis ‘yung ganun. Kaya ako nag –pumutok talaga. Ilagay mo sa freezer tapos lahat nambubugbog, lahat pasa-pasa ‘yung–puro hematoma [I cannot bear it. I really blew my top. You placed her inside a freezer and she was beaten, bruised, and suffered hematoma],” the President said.
“Eh kung gawain ko kaya ‘yan sa mga babae ninyo? [What if I also do that to your women?],” he added.
The President lamented that some Arab employers treat their workers as slaves. Workers, already hungry and deprived of sleep, were sometimes sexually abused by the employers and their relatives, he said.
“If you are a slave bought from the slave markets of Africa or you are paid really to do ‘yung housework, it includes sexual abuse for free. ‘Yan itinago ko ‘yan sa puso ko, ngayon Presidente na ako binitawan ko na kasi hindi ko na matiis [I’ve kept that in my heart but now that I’m President, I’ve to let it out because I cannot bear it anymore],” the President said.
“The human body or the human being can only take so much. Kaya kita mo nag –lumulukso. Destroyed ‘yan physically and wala na mentally. Wala kang kain, wala kang tulog, gamitin ka pa [She is destroyed physically and mentally. You have no food, sleep, and you’ll still be used],” he said.
Following the President’s fury over workers’ abuses, the Philippines and Kuwait are now crafting an agreement providing protection for the welfare of workers in the Gulf state. The proposed agreement includes a provision ensuring passports of Filipino workers are kept with the Philippine labor attaché and not confiscated by their employers.