President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. expressed optimism Friday that the Philippines and Kuwait will be able to resolve their current labor issue after his brief meeting with Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at the sidelines of the ASEAN-GCC Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
President Marcos said during an interview with the Philippine media that he had a pull aside meeting with the Kuwaiti monarch, who told him that he is displeased with the present Philippine-Kuwait relation and that the Philippines need not issue an apology.
The crown prince, the President said, apologized to him instead, saying he disagreed with what his people were doing.
“The words that he used, ‘Do not listen to them. I do not agree with what they have been doing.’ And, in fact, he said, ‘I do not want…There is no reason for you to apologize to us,’” the President said.
“‘We will fix it and we will make it because we love the Philippines.’ And he said, ‘Because I remember your father,’ Sabi niya, ‘He always supported Kuwait. He always supported us and we know that you will also always support us, that’s why we will fix this,” the President said of the meeting that was initiated by the Crown Prince.
The President said the resolution of the country’s disagreement with Kuwait is one of the successes of his trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the 1st ASEAN-GCC Summit.
“Sinasabi ko nga sa ating mga kasamahan na just for that worth it na itong byahe natin dahil naayos natin ‘yung problema sa Kuwait, which talagang sumasakit ang ulo namin kung papaano namin gagawin. But that is one of the shall we say, successes that we can record from this trip,” he said.
The Gulf state suspended the issuance of entry and work visas to Filipinos due to the Philippines’ supposed non-compliance with the labor agreement between the two countries.
The Philippine government temporarily banned the deployment of first-time household service workers to Kuwait following the slaying of Jullebee Ranara, whose burnt corpse was found in the desert.
In 2018, the previous administration imposed a temporary deployment ban after the murder of household worker Joan Demafelis.
As of 2022, the estimated number of Filipinos in Kuwait is 279,000.
OFWs remittances from Kuwait amounted to US$576,059 in 2021 and US$579,186 last year. |PND
Photo Courtesy of PCO