Philippines' Duterte mulls Mideast work ban after maid 'rapes'
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a press conference in Davao.
Manila - Over two million Filipinos work in region, most of them as domestic helpers.
Published: Wed 24 Jan 2018, 1:10 PM
Last updated: Thu 25 Jan 2018, 12:23 AM
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday threatened to ban hundreds of thousands of Filipinas from working as maids in the Middle East as he said domestic workers were being raped in Kuwait.
Over two million Filipinos, many of them maids, are employed in the region, helping to prop up the Philippine economy with billions of dollars in salary remittances to their families each year.
Read: Kuwait regrets Philippine president's remarks on workers ban
Last week, Duterte barred Filipinos from seeking work in Kuwait over reports of widespread abuse, exploitation and deaths, although the ban did not affect workers already in the Gulf state.
"One more incident about a woman, a Filipina worker being raped there, committing suicide, I'm going to stop - I'm going to ban" Filipinos working, he said.
"And I'm sorry to all the Filipinos there, they can all go home."
"Let me be blunt about this because Kuwait has always been an ally. But please do something about it and for the other countries of the Middle East."
A visibly angry Duterte was speaking shortly before boarding a flight for India to attend a regional summit.
Read: Some Filipino expats can still go to Kuwait for work
Duterte said last week that four Filipinas had died in Kuwait over the past few months in apparent suicides.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said separately that Duterte had reacted to a recent report on abuses in Kuwait.
"Statistics don't lie and there is grave concern about the abuses in Kuwait," he said.
Cayetano said Kuwaiti and Philippine diplomats had met in both countries to discuss the issue after Duterte imposed the ban.
"We expressed the same concerns and they expressed surprise or shock that we used a ban immediately," Cayetano said.
"So the point is we are sending a message around the world."
An estimated 10 million Filipinos work overseas, with the oil-rich Middle East countries key destinations.