Hundreds of Filipino workers leave Kuwait amid diplomatic row

A special Cebu Pacific flight carrying at least 430 overseas Filipino workers from Kuwait is scheduled to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday

Hundreds of Filipino workers leave Kuwait amid diplomatic row

President Rodrigo Duterte imposed the ban in response to the murder of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait earlier this month.

Topping the list are demands that Filipino workers be allowed to keep their cellphones and passports, which can be confiscated by employers.

Demafelis' body was found stuffed in a freezer on February 6 in a Kuwait City apartment where it had reportedly been for more than a year.

According to the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, the DFA will recognize a country as compliant if they either have existing labor and social laws protecting rights of workers, including migrant workers.

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Mr Duterte's ban sparked a diplomatic flap between the Philippines and the Gulf state as he alleged that Arab employers routinely raped their Filipino domestic maids, forced them to work 21 hours a day and fed them scraps.

The visit comes following the Philippines' decision to reinforce a ban on its workers from being deployed to Kuwait last week following several high profile abuse cases.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Kuwait should afford greater protections for migrant workers as a delegation from the Philippines heads to the Gulf state to discuss the current impasse between the two countries.

Senator Win Gatchalian earlier said he is considering proposing the expansion of the total deployment ban to other countries that are partially-compliant with worldwide and local labor laws.

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Many who returned were Filipinos who took Kuwait's amnesty programme for undocumented and overstaying workers.

CEB Corporate Communications Director Charo Lagamon told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) the airline could only provide one special flight to help repatriate the OFWs, since CEB does not have a flight to Kuwait.

Lagunzad said Duterte had ordered the team to ensure passports are deposited with the Philippine Embassy in each country.

About 10 million Filipinos work overseas and the money they remit back is a lifeline of the Philippine economy.

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"Hopefully we can finalise the memorandum of agreement and by first or second week of March, we will have the signing by the Kuwaiti and Philippine governments", said Claro Arellano, another labour undersecretary.

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