MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte personally welcomed 116 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been repatriated from Kuwait.
In his speech at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Duterte told his audience not to lose hope and that his administration would assist them and provide them with employment opportunities.
“We are here to see to it that every Filipino is treated decently,” he said.
On Monday, the Philippines banned its citizens from traveling to work in Kuwait and began to repatriate the thousands of Filipinos already employed there. The first batch of more than 300 repatriated OFWs arrived in Manila on Monday.
The ban was sparked by Duterte’s anger over the treatment of Joanna Demafelis, a domestic worker whose body was found last week inside a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait that had been abandoned by her Lebanese employer in 2016.
Duterte said the government is willing to give land to those interested in farming it, adding that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also runs a livelihood program for returning OFWs.
The president said he could assure Filipino workers that the government has the necessary resources to look after them on their return home, and underscored that the decision and the urgency with which it was implemented were for the protection of OFWs.
Duterte also said the government would examine other markets for OFWs — citing China and Japan as examples of markets that are opening up to Filipino workers — but that his administration is already increasing efforts to attract foreign business to the Philippines in a bid to create more jobs locally.