By Genalyn D. Kabiling
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said he was ready to “sell his soul to the devil” just to be able to find enough funds to support Filipino workers returning from Kuwait.
The President has offered government subsidy to the displaced Filipino workers so they could have comfortable lives, in the wake of a deployment ban to Kuwait due to reported abuses.
“They can come here, I will support them. Ubusin natin ang pera natin. Hindi naman ito atin [Let’s use the money. This is not ours anyway]. It belongs to the people. We’ll subsidize them,” Duterte said during the oath-taking ceremony of new appointees in Malacañang.
“I will sell my soul to the devil to look for money so you can come home and live comfortably,” he added.
Dutert made the remarks before proceeding to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to welcome more than a hundred returning Filipino workers from Kuwait. The repatriated workers were among the undocumented and overstaying OFWs who were allowed to leave Kuwait after applying for amnesty.
The workers are expected to be given financial assistance by the government.
The President earlier decided to stop sending workers to Kuwait as he denounced the string of brutal deaths and other abuses endured by some Filipino workers there. The latest case of abuse deplored by the President was discovery of a dead Filipino worker inside a freezer.
Duterte also directed authorities to help repatriate other Filipinos who may want to leave Kuwait.
In his remarks on Tuesday, the President slammed anew Kuwait for the abuses endured by some Filipino workers.
“What have we done to you to deserve this kind of treatment?” an emotional President asked.
Duterte said he refused to stay silent about the OFW abuses in Kuwait, adding he could no longer tolerate how nationals were treated like animals.
“Don’t give me that sh*t about keeping silent. I will confront them… I want a total ban,” he said.
He admitted that three Arab officials were seeking a meeting with him over the issue. He said they were aware of the economic slowdown whenever Filipino workers, including engineers and other skilled workers, return to the country.
Early in the day, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said each returning Filipino worker would be given P5,000 financial aid and another P20,000 in livelihood assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
Roque said the country’s missions all over the world have also been alerted to find alternative employment opportunities for the displaced workers.
He said the government prefers countries that have signed an international accord on the protection of the rights of migrant workers. Among the possible alternative employment destinations are Oman and Bahrain that have no instance of abuse of Filipino workers.