By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Even though he dislikes long-haul flights, President Duterte is determined to fly Kuwait to thank the Gulf state for signing the accord on the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) last month.
Duterte, in his speech in Sta. Rosa, Laguna Thursday, reiterated that he is grateful to Kuwait for agreeing to all his conditions so the deployment ban of OFWs to the Arab nation can be lifted.
“I’d like to thank the state of Kuwait. Lahat ng hiningi ko binigay nila (They agreed to everything I asked for),” he said.
“That’s why I’m going to Kuwait. Huwag kayong mag-alala (Don’t worry). I will just take the commercial flight just to say, ‘Salamat po (Thank you),’ and then I’ll take the next available flight back home. Just to show our gratitude,” he added.
Duterte first mentioned that he will fly to Kuwait last month to thank the government of Kuwait for agreeing to all the conditions he wants included in “Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers between the Philippines and Kuwait” signed by the countries.
The signing of the agreement came almost three months after the relationship between the Philippines and Kuwait went on the rocks following reported abuse and deaths of OFWs in the Gulf state. This triggered President Duterte to ban the deployment of new OFWs to the Gulf state.
But just as the two countries were mending the relationship, the Philippines and Kuwait figured in a diplomatic row over a viral video of a rescue of distressed Filipino workers by the Philippine embassy.
President Duterte on Friday said that he gave the signing the green light after learning that all the conditions he set were included in the accord. These include a set working hours, a day off, be able to cook their food, be allowed to have their own phone, no physical abuse, and their passports not confiscated but instead left with the Philippine embassy.
The 73-year-old President also reiterated that his aging body does not allow him to enjoy long travels anymore.
“I simply at my age cannot manage a long haul [flight], 13 hours, 16 hours, mamamatay ako. Kaya ayaw ko na (I will die. That’s why I don’t want to travel anymore),” Duterte said.
“And today I seemed to have that dislike for even boarding a plane and sumusobra ng (that takes up to) four, five, six hours. It’s really a killing job,” he added.
In 2016, Duterte expressed that if he had it his way, he would skip the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Peru as he hates long-haul flights.
“If my presence is dispensable, I’d rather not [go] kasi malayo (because it’s far)… I hate long-hauls,” he said.
Aside from Peru, Duterte managed to take a direct 11-hour flight to the Middle East during the Holy Week last year. He also went to Russia two months later but only had to cut his visit short due to the Marawi siege.
In January this year, Duterte also took an almost seven-hour flight to attend the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit, and to serve as one of the 10 special guests for the Republic Day in New Delhi.