DFA sees need for ‘more talks’ on Kuwait visa issuance suspension

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 18) — The Philippines will have to hold more dialogues with the Kuwait government as it seeks to have “a long-term solution” to labor issues affecting overseas Filipino workers, with the recent being the sudden suspension of visa issuances.

According to Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega, officials from Kuwait insisted that the Philippine government has violated their law.

“So status quo pa rin. We will need more talks in the future,” he said in a statement Thursday.

De Vega stressed that the national government’s goal is to secure a long-lasting solution, admitting that this will not be possible in one sitting with their counterparts.

“The alternative would be for us to immediately agree to everything they insist on, or for them to agree to everything we insist on. That is not realistic in diplomatic negotiations even with a friend and partner like Kuwait,” he said.

“And for us to violate our own laws mandating Philippine embassies to put up a center for Filipinos, just so that we could convince any foreign country to resume hiring our workers, would be dishonorable,” the DFA official added.

A delegation from the Philippine government flew to Kuwait earlier this week to discuss the visa issuance suspension, which is seen to affect up to 3,000 skilled workers.

De Vega earlier said the suspension may have stemmed from a 2018 agreement between the two nations allowing the Philippine embassy to serve as a shelter for Filipino workers escaping from their employers.

But since the facility was getting congested, Philippine authorities decided to transfer around 160 OFWs to a hotel—a move that was not approved by Kuwaiti authorities.

Before the suspension, the Philippines imposed a deployment ban for first-time household workers bound for Kuwait until there are improvements in measures protecting Filipinos working there.

This came after a 35-year-old Filipino household worker was killed in Kuwait.