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Kuwait shuts door on Pinoys

‘Iqama’ holders exempt from entry ban sparked by labor row

The Kuwaiti government has imposed an entry ban on all Filipinos, except those with an “iqama” or residence permit, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

DFA Assistant Secretary Paul Cortes, in an interview with CNN Philippines, said the ban took effect on May 10 and covers Filipinos, even those issued with visas, who are entering the Gulf state.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., upon his return from the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia last night, did not answer questions on this issue, nor has the Presidential Communications Office released a statement on it as of press time.

Filipinos already on their way to Kuwait have been kept from boarding their flights following the country’s suspension of their visas, GMA News TV reported last night.

According to a report on “24 Oras,” a Filipina skilled worker already in Dubai was no longer allowed to take her connecting flight to Kuwait. Her recruitment agency officer in the Philippines said the worker was being asked for a civil ID, which is only issued after completing a medical examination in Kuwait.

Recruitment agencies are asking for help from the Department of Migrant Workers, which had yet to comment as of press time, because many OFWs who have completed their requirements would be affected.

“According to our Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, all those new entry visas in Kuwait from the Philippines are not allowed to enter but those with residence visa or what you call iqama are allowed to enter,” Cortes said.

“The way it is written by the Kuwait Civil Aviation, it says all visas, so it may be tourist, it may be student, it may be business, as long as new entry, they will not be allowed entry, but those who have their residence IDs may do so,” he added.

Cortes declined to comment on Kuwaiti media reports that the decision was based on the Philippines’ alleged non-compliance with its bilateral labor agreement with the Gulf state.

He said Kuwait has yet to officially inform Manila of the reason behind the suspension.

The envoy, however, emphasized Manila is committed to resolving the issue “in an amicable manner.”

“In the case of Kuwait, we cannot deny that there are very, very friendly relations plus very strong people-to-people links,” he said.

“We’re confident that we will be able to find a mutually satisfactory solution to whatever issues we feel need to be discussed with Kuwait.”

Cortes said the DFA is waiting for official talks to start with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to discuss the coverage of the ban.

“Our ambassador there is liaising and coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make sure that nothing is lost in translation,” he said.

“One, what kind of ban will this be? What type of cessation of visa is it? Number two, what are its limits and who are those covered? Number three, why? So, all that will be threshed out with our discussion with the MOFA.”

At least 290,000 Filipinos live and work in Kuwait.

The Philippines’ Department of Migrant Workers earlier implemented a deployment ban in February for newly hired or first-time domestic workers in Kuwait following the murder of Jullebee Ranara.

The country last imposed a total deployment ban to Kuwait in 2018 after OFW Joanna Demafelis was slain and discovered inside a freezer at an abandoned apartment there. — Rey E. Requejo

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Credit belongs to: www.manilastandard.net

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