Duterte apologizes to Kuwait for harsh language in previous outburst

Published June 3, 2018, 6:44 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Genalyn Kabiling

SEOUL – President Duterte has issued a public apology to Kuwait for his “harsh language” used in his past outburst over the reported abuse of some Filipino workers.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE 3 DAYS FOR OFFICIAL VISIT IN SOUTH KOREA - President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech at NAIA 2 before leave the country for 3 days official visit in South Korea last night. The President urged to South Korea government to strengthen partnership in defense and security, trade and investments, and political cooperation. (June2,2018) (photo by Manny Llanes)
President Rodrigo Duterte (photo by Manny Llanes)

The President acknowledged his mistake as he announced plans to visit Kuwait “even just for a few hours” to express thanks for signing a labor protection pact.

“For the first time, I would say that I was harsh in my language, maybe because that was a result of an emotional outburst but I’d like to apologize now,” Duterte said during the meeting with the Filipino community in South Korea.

“I’m sorry for the language that I was using. I’m very satisfied by the way how you responded to the problems of my country,” he added.

The President previously launched a tirade against Kuwait following cases of abuse and exploitation of some Filipino workers. He was furious about the abuses endured by Filipinos even though the country helped Kuwait during the Iraqi war.

The recent brutal death of a Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis also prompted the President to impose a temporary deployment ban of workers to Kuwait. The controversy eventually triggered negotiations to forge an agreement providing additional protection for Filipino workers in Kuwait.

In his remarks, the President thanked Kuwait for understanding the Filipino nation, citing it has granted his requests for better working conditions for Filipino workers such as seven hours of sleep, access to cellphone and passport, and protection from abuse.

“I think I’ll go there. I’d like to thank them for understanding us, keeping their faith in us, practically giving all of my demands,” Duterte said.

“I’ll go there even for a few hours,” he added.

The Philippines and Kuwait recently forged an agreement providing extra protection for Filipino workers in the Gulf State to prevent any abuse and exploitation. The signing of the labor accord has prompted the Duterte government to lift the total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers imposed since February due to recent cases of abuse.

The memorandum of agreement includes the conditions set by President Duterte such as ability to cook own food, no confiscation of cellphone and passport, and a day off per week.

Duterte said he also secured a commitment from Kuwait to ensure there will be “no sexual harassment” of Filipino workers.

The signing of the labor pact indicated improving Philippines-Kuwait ties after a diplomatic row triggered by the rescue of distressed Filipino workers by embassy staff. The controversial rescue of Filipinos earlier soured the relations between the two countries, even leading to the expulsion of the Philippine ambassador from Kuwait.