Body of Filipino worker found in a freezer sparks anger against Kuwait

The kingdom of Kuwait and Philippines have had their diplomatic rows over some prominent cases of domestic abuse in the past, with one of the most recent scenarios taking place in 2014, when a Kuwaiti’s pet lion fatally mauled a Filipino maid, and now, both countries are reportedly holding talks after a migrant worker was discovered dead in a freezer.

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President Rodrigo Duterte in January lashed out at Kuwait for placing total ban on Filipino migrant workers swarming the oil-rich country for greener pastures.

Duterte, 72, was not only against the immigration ban, but expressed anger for the fact that most recorded cases of domestic violence reported by Filipino workers around the world “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait. This latest discovery buttresses the point.

“As to the need for justice, we will hold Kuwait responsible under the concept of state responsibility,” Mr. Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, angrily said on Monday and called on Kuwait to provide legal redress to Filipino victims of what he called “horrendous crimes.”

Following the horrific discovery on Tuesday, Kuwait’s foreign minister has made efforts to calm anger in the Philippines.

Coincidentally, the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment on Monday issued an order calling for total restrictions on deployment of all overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait. It is, however, unclear how the Duterte’s law enforcement agencies would effectively enforce the orders, with many Filipinos working across Kuwaiti industrial sectors.

According to a report for AP, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Khalid Al Sabah told journalists on Tuesday that this escalation will not benefit the relationship between Kuwait and the Philippines.

Al Sabah made claims that his country has warmly welcomed Filipino workers, and stressed that his country plays host to over 170,000 immigrant Filipino nationals who, he said, are living a decent life there.

In his words: “They have one of the least number of problems out of all expatriate communities in Kuwait and such isolated incidents unfortunately happen.”

Al Sabah assured that findings from the ongoing investigations will be shared with the Philippine authorities.

Kuwait recently declared amnesty  for Filipino workers who overstayed their visas following reports that about 500 workers from the Asian country were stuck after a company failed to pay their salaries.

There are over 500,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait and about 65 percent of them are domestic workers.

A survey from New York Times show the Philippine economy is heavily dependent on remittances, with 10 percent of the country’s population working overseas and sending money home.

Speaking on the abuse incidents suffered by his compatriots, Philippines’ ambassador to Kuwait, Renato Villa, told AP that he welcomed the Kuwaiti foreign minister’s comments.

“Filipinos are the most vulnerable among all domestic workers in Kuwait,” he said.

Media reports say the migrant worker found dead in a freezer was located in a Kuwait City apartment abandoned since November 2016.

The CNN confirmed today that over 10,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait are expected to leave on free flights offered by President Duterte’s government.