Press Release
April 29, 2018


"President Rodrigo Duterte is gambling with the lives and employment of hundreds of thousands of OFWs in Kuwait."

This was the statement issued by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros in reaction to Duterte's "Solomonic" decision to pull out 260,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait in response to the country's diplomatic row with the oil-rich nation.

"What is so 'Solomonic' about a solution that actually cuts the baby in half? It is extremely reckless, shortsighted and uncaring. President Duterte should stop gambling with the lives and employment of thousands of OFWs, and the welfare of their families, in a desperate attempt to break the diplomatic impasse with Kuwait. This is not a game. We are talking about the lives and future of our OFWs and their loved ones,' Hontiveros said.

In a meeting with members of the Filipino community in Singapore, Duterte appealed to the OFWs in Kuwait to come home, saying that there are now many jobs awaiting them in the Philippines.

"Are we even talking about the same Philippines? President Duterte is promising our OFWs jobs back in our country when he can't even sign an Executive Order (EO) to address labor contractualization and protect the workers' security of tenure. His administration doesn't even have an alternative economic strategy to the country's labor export policy," Hontiveros stressed.

"Like any Filipino, I dream of the day that our kababayan will not go abroad just to earn a decent living. I want them to come home and end the Filipino diaspora. But I want them to return to a Philippines where regular and decent jobs abound, where their children can pursue their dreams and where peace not death reigns in our communities. Sadly, this is not the Philippines under President Duterte," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros urged Duterte to rethink his decision. The Senator said she fears for the safety of the OFWs, particularly the reported 5,000 undocumented Filipinos in Kuwait who did not avail of the Arab state's amnesty program and Philippine repatriation efforts, and are currently almost beyond the reach of the Philippine government.

"I appeal to the President to think this through. This is not the time for cavalier diplomacy. I urge him to conduct extensive foreign policy and labor dialogues and consultations with his Cabinet, the Legislature, foreign affairs experts, labor groups and other stakeholders to find a truly diplomatic and sustainable solution to this crisis," Hontiveros said.

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