Kuwait stands firm on visa ban

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Kuwait stands firm on visa ban
The Department of Migrant Workers is assisting the over 800 overseas Filipino workers whose deployment were deferred due to the sudden suspension of the Kuwaiti government of the new work and entry visas issued to Filipinos.
Philstar.com / Kaycee Valmonte

MANILA, Philippines — Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior remained firm on its decision to withhold the issuance of any type of visa for Philippine nationals after Manila supposedly rejected the conditions set during a recent bilateral meeting.

A ministry statement, cited in a report published on state-owned Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), said Kuwait “is working to outsource the skills and expertise needed for its labor market through contracts with other countries.”

“The sovereignty of Kuwait and the dignity of its people are a red line,” it added.

Earlier this month, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed that the Middle Eastern country has suspended the issuance of new entry and work visas for Filipinos.

Those holding valid visas were not affected by the ban, which took effect on May 10.

According to the KUNA report, a letter from Kuwait’s Public Authority of Manpower outlined the supposed violations that led to the ban.

These violations include forcing employment offices in Kuwait to recall Filipino housemaids and workers from the houses of Kuwaiti citizens and lodge them at a private residence of the offices, forcing employment offices to locate the escapees from Kuwaiti employers, and dealing inappropriately with Kuwaiti citizens by applying pressure on employers and offices while renewing work contracts.

It also alleged that the Philippine embassy failed to authenticate work contracts without legal justification and lodged supposed Filipino violators of residence laws in private shelters and camps belonging to the embassy.

The Philippine government has yet to directly address the issues raised by Kuwait.

A delegation composed of senior officials from the DFA, Department of Migrant Workers and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration held bilateral talks with the Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 16 and 17.

During the meeting, Kuwait said it sought recognition of the supposed violations of the Philippine embassy and a pledge of no recurrence in the future.

The Philippine side supposedly rejected the conditions.

In a statement on May 18, the DFA said “the Philippine delegation expressed its full respect for Kuwaiti laws and profound appreciation for the hospitality of its government and people to more than 200,000 Filipino workers who consider Kuwait as their second home.”

“On issues related to services being rendered to our migrant workers, the delegation explained that all actions taken by the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Government are solely to ensure the safety and welfare of our own nationals. Providing protection to a country’s citizens abroad is a well-established duty of consular offices under international law and conventions,” it added.

The Philippines said it remains open to constructive dialogue on how to address current concerns.

On Friday, President Marcos said around 800 Filipino workers failed to enter Kuwait since the imposition of the ban, but he ruled out imposing a total deployment ban to the Gulf nation.

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