DFA: PH team headed for Kuwait over Pinoys’ entry ban

The Department of Foreign Affairs said a Philippine delegation is set  to visit Kuwait this month to discuss the ban on Filipinos entering the Gulf state for the first time and the possible review of the two nations’ 2018 bilateral labor agreement.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Paul Cortes said the delegation would leave Manila shortly, but did cite any swpecific date.

“What we hope to achieve when we get there is to clarify the issues of why there was a visa suspension and what will it take to resolve these issues between the Philippines and Kuwait,” Cortes said during the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City.

He said the ban and suspension of entry visa issuance were only formally communicated to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday and Kuwait has yet to officially provide a reason for its decision.

Media reports said the ban stems from the alleged non-compliance by the Philippines with the 2018 labor agreement with Kuwait concerning the operation of a temporary shelter for distressed Filipinos inside the Philippine Embassy in gulf state.

Cortes, however, stressed that Manila did not violate the deal if this was indeed Kuwait’s reason because the establishment of shelters, now known as Migrant Workers Overseas Filipino Resource Centers (MWOFRC) inside the embassies, is mandated under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.

“We could not have agreed to a provision that will allow us not to establish a shelter for our countrymen, because that’s our law, and of course, whenever we have an agreement with another country, we always connect that with our domestic legislation),” he explained.

Cortes said the operation of these shelters abroad is non-negotiable and would stay whatever the outcome of the upcoming talks may be. “Our law is clear. We have to have a shelter for our kababayans,” he said.