More than 80 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returned home from Kuwait on Saturday, May 12, 2018.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said this was the first batch of less than 600 workers returning home together with Philippine officials after the May 11, 2018 signing of the memorandum of agreement (OFW) on the protection of OFWs in Kuwait.
Roque said the Kuwaiti government volunteered to pay for the Filipino workers’ plane fare.
“Ang pinaka magandang balita rito, and this is beyond all our expectations,is hindi lang pinapauwi yung mga undocumented aliens na more or less mga 500 kasi mga 62 ang maiiwan dahil may iba’t ibang kaso, sila pa ang magbabayad ng pamasahe pagbalik ng Pilipinas (The best news we got out of the meetings is they’re not only allowing the return of more or less 500 undocumented aliens they will also be paying for their fares),” Roque said.
The return of the first batch of Filipino workers comes on the heels of a diplomatic spat between the Philippines and Kuwait after Philippine embassy conducted rescue operations of distressed Filipino workers in their country without consulting the Kuwaiti government.
Due to the murder of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis and a series of reported abuses and maltreatment of Filipino domestic workers, President Rodrigo R. Duterte imposed a total deployment ban on new workers to Kuwait.
Roque, however, said the ban may be “partially” lifted once the MOA between the Philippines and Kuwait is signed.
He said both the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments wanted nothing more than to “move on” from the issue and normalize ties.
Moreover, Kuwait has expressed its desire to be known for being “the humanitarian center of the Middle East.”