Marcos not comfortable with total OFW deployment ban to Kuwait

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday said he is not comfortable with a total ban on deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait, as he expressed hope that the Kuwaiti government reverses its decision on suspending the issuance of visas for Filipinos.

READ: Kuwait suspends issuance of visas for Filipinos

"I'm never very comfortable yung nagba-ban nang gano'n [to ban just like that]," he told reporters on Friday, adding that a total ban might be an "overreaction."

"I don't want to burn any bridges," he said. "Baka in the future, magbago ang sitwasyon, baka pwede pa tayo magpadala ulit ng workers."

[Translation: Maybe in the future, the situation will change and we can deploy our workers again to that country.]

Marcos maintained that the Philippines did not violate the labor deal with Kuwait but said the government has to "react to the situation as it is."

RELATED: DFA sees need for 'more talks' on Kuwait visa issuance suspension

"The proper reaction is to take the decision of the Kuwaiti government to no longer issue new visas," the president said. "Wala tayong magagawa [We cannot do anything], it's their country, those are their rules."

"We'll just leave that issue open, and hopefully continue to negotiate with them and consult with them, and baka sakali [maybe], down the road, magbago ang sitwasyon [the situation will change]," he added.

A delegation from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), as well as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, went to Kuwait to conduct exploratory talks with their counterparts on May 16 to 17.

Details of the bilateral meeting have not been disclosed.

To help the 815 Filipinos directly affected by the recent suspension of visa issuance to the Gulf state, the DMW has announced that they will receive aid worth ₱30,000.

RELATED: DFA firm with keeping shelter in Kuwait open

DMW Secretary Susan Ople agreed with Marcos' stand against imposing a total deployment ban.

She also clarified that the Philippines currently has no deployment ban to Kuwait — only a deferment policy.

"Before they suspended the visa issuances, we were deploying workers to Kuwait. Ang hindi lang tayo nag-dedeploy ay 'yung first time ever na kasambahay [What we are not deploying are first time household workers]," Ople said in a press briefing on Friday.

The secretary added that they wanted to introduce reforms for the protection of Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait during the bilateral talks.

Ople said they were open to lifting the deferment policy but it already became moot after Kuwait suspended the issuance of new visas.