• Kuwait said the Migrant Workers Resource Center operated by the Philippine Embassy was an "infringe on their sovereignty"

  • Kuwait did not actually demand for the closure of the Migrant Workers Resource Center 
  • Instead, it said Kuwaiti-run shelters should be used for the purpose of rescuing distressed overseas Filipino workers

The Kuwaiti government remained firm in its suspension of all new entry visas for Filipinos despite the two-day dialogue held with Philippine government officials this week.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said during the meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday officials of the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry cited their issue over the Migrant Workers Resource Center or "Bahay Kalinga" operated by the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, saying the shelters "infringe on their sovereignty," the Inquirer reported.

De Vega said the Kuwaiti officials did not actually demand the closure of the Philippine shelters, but said the Kuwaiti-run shelters should instead be used for the same purpose.

"The overall measures we're doing to protect our workers, they feel (these efforts) would infringe on their sovereignty. For example, if the Filipinos have a criminal case and they're being kept in the shelter," De Vega said, Inquirer reported.

The DFA senior official stressed that the Philippine government will continue to protect Filipino, citizens abroad, and that "compromising" this mandate was non-negotiable.

As of Thursday, "Bahay Kalinga" houses 466 Overseas Filipino Workers in Kuwait, who were rescued from abusive employers, the outlet said.

In the meeting, the Kuwaiti officials also did not explain which provisions of the 2018 labor agreement between the two countries were violated by the Philippines, which led to the suspension of new entry visas to the Gulf state.

A week ago, Kuwait suspended all types of work and entry visas for Filipinos saying that the "Philippines has breached the conditions and provisions of the labor agreement," Kuwait Times reported.

Migrant workers' group Migrante International said on Wednesday the visa suspension meant it crushed the hopes of many Filipinos who were eagerly hoping for employment in Kuwait.

The group added this was a consequence of the government's unofficial labor export policy, which "makes [the country] dependent on the changing demands of other countries, some of whom resent efforts to protect OFWs' rights," the Philippine Star reported.

Earlier, the Philippine government suspended the deployment of first-time Filipino domestic workers bound for Kuwait following the violent death of Jullebee Ranara whose body was found buried in the desert in January. Reports said she was raped and impregnated prior to her death, following which the 17-year-old son of her Kuwaiti employer was detained by the police.

A worker installs steel rods at a construction site in Paranaque city, metro Manila, Philippines May 29, 2018.
IBTimes US