MANILA – Following the suspension of visa issuance for Filipinos, the Philippine government said on Friday that it was seeking a diplomatic solution and “maximum protection” for its workers in Kuwait.

Approximately 290,000 Filipinos, largely women, work in Kuwait, which has recently been scrutinized by Philippine authorities following repeated abuse instances and the murder of a Filipino maid, prompting Manila to suspend the deployment of first-time employees to the Gulf state in February.

In a statement, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs stated that the Kuwaiti government had “suspended the issuance of new entry visas for PH nationals into Kuwait effective immediately until further notice.”

Eduardo De Vega, DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, told Arab News that the government has yet to decide how to handle the problem.

“Everything can be discussed and resolved diplomatically,” he continued, “in a way that provides maximum protection and full access to justice for our nationals in Kuwait.”
“Various government agencies will hold a meeting to discuss the next steps to be taken.”

While the suspension of new visas overlaps with the Philippine prohibition on the deployment of first-time workers to Kuwait, DFA Assistant Secretary Paul Cortes said the move also applies to tourist, business, and student visas.

“There is now a ban for those who will be entering Kuwait for the first time,” he explained to Arab News.
“At the same time, there is assurance that as long as you have the iqama (residence visa), you will be allowed entry into Kuwait.”

The reasons for the suspension were unclear, although a Philippine delegation was scheduled to visit the Gulf state soon.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to visit Kuwait in the coming weeks.” There were scheduled meetings with Kuwait, not on this topic specifically, but on our bilateral labor agreement,” Cortes stated.

“As always, whatever bilateral issue the Philippines has with any country, we try to settle and resolve it amicably.” And we must do so in order to preserve the interests of the Filipino nationals who remain in the country.”
The Philippine Employment Agencies and Associates for Corporate Employees in the Middle East, or PEACEME, predicts that the visa ban will affect thousands of them.
“With the announcement, we can’t deploy in Kuwait anymore… those who were already interviewed and selected by employers, we can no longer apply for visas for them,” PEACEME president Arnold Mamaclay told Arab News.

The group will look for work for them in other Middle Eastern nations.

“If there are jobs available for them in other markets, we will have to support them.” “However, there is no guarantee,” Mamaclay remarked.

“At the end of the day, it is up to our clients in other countries and industries to see if the candidates match what they require.”



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