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Palace: Kuwait to release 3 PHL diplomats in 2-3 days

Three Philippine embassy personnel charged for the controversial rescue of distressed Filipino migrant workers would be released by authorities in Kuwait in the next two to three days, Malacañang said Thursday.

The development came after representatives from Philippine and Kuwaiti governments held a meeting on Wednesday where the latter also agreed to release the four Filipino drivers hired by the Philippine Embassy for its rescue mission.

“The Philippine delegation also met with Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Al-Khaled Sulaiman Al-Jarallah, who assured the visiting Filipino officials that the release of the three Filipino diplomats are now being worked out with the Interior Ministry,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, one of the officials sent by President Rodrigo Duterte to Kuwait to hold talks aimed at normalizing ties strained by controversy over treatment of overseas Filipino workers.

“The diplomats are expected to be released in two to three days.”

It was not immediately clear if the kidnapping charges against the three diplomats, who were previously reported holed up in the Philippine Embassy, would be dropped.

During the meeting, Roque said Kuwait Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Sabeeh Barrak Al-Sabeeh discussed the formulation and possible amendment of a model employment contract for all domestic helpers from 91 countries who are currently working in Kuwait.

“Under the model contract, workers would enjoy the following: one day off, a 12-hour sleep or rest period, protection from physical abuse, and the right to a decent meal,” Roque said.

The Philippines is currently the fourth country with the largest number of household service workers employed in Kuwait.??

“Minister Al-Sabeeh also made mention of Kuwait’s desire to be known as a center for humanitarian concerns, adding that the mandate of the Emir of Kuwait is for all human beings in their country ‘to have a happy life,’” Roque said.

“She also announced the transfer of jurisdiction over domestic helpers from the Interior Ministry to the Labor Ministry, signifying the government’s intention to subject domestic helpers to the same terms and conditions offered to skilled and semi-skilled workers.”

Al-Jarallah, meanwhile, said the Kuwaiti government would shoulder the repatriation to the Philippines of more than 500 undocumented Filipinos.

Sixty-two Filipinos, however, could not go back home yet. Roque has said only those without pending cases would be repatriated.

Kuwait is a major labor destination for Filipinos in the Middle East, with around 260,000 currently working there, mostly as domestic helpers. —KBK, GMA News


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