It appears that the firm measures taken by Kuwait recently, driven by popular support, to stop granting any visas to Filipino workers, and restricting entry only to those who have a valid residence permit is beginning to bear fruit before the upcoming joint committee meeting.
A delegation from the Philippine Ministry of Labor was scheduled to visit Kuwait from May 16 to 18 to attend the joint committee meeting on the thorny issue of employment, and now it has been reported that the government in the Philippines has now decided to replace the members of the delegation which now will comprise of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to what the diplomatic sources told Al-Rai daily.
The sources indicated the mission of the Philippine delegation is to try to bridge the gap that has widened between the two countries, after talks faltered regarding resolving the problem of recruiting workers from Manila, noting that after Kuwait’s decision to stop visas for the Filipinos, “the issue has returned to square one.” The labor file now will be dealt with by officials from the foreign ministries of the two countries since “there are matters that were not clear or well understood by both parties with regard to labor rights.”
The labor sources said that “the large number of requests from the Filipino side under the pretext of ensuring the well-being of its workers led to worsening the situation,” pointing out that “most of the requests that were raised were exaggerated and showed Manila’s lack of commitment to the bilateral agreement signed with Kuwait regarding employment. .
The sources drew the attention to the broad popular support for the directives of the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and Acting Minister of Defense Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled to stop visas for Filipino workers, and to demand that no concessions be made in the face of the Filipino side’s attempts to achieve undeserved gains for its workers at the expense of citizens and employers.
In an indication that Manila has begun to ease its conditions and the high ceiling it has set since its decision to stop sending workers to Kuwait last February, Assistant Secretary of State Paul Curtis told CNN in the Philippines that his country is committed to resolving any issues with Kuwait in an “amicable manner,” saying the two countries enjoy “very friendly” relations.
Curtis added, “We are confident that we will be able to find a mutually satisfactory solution to any issues we feel is necessary to discuss with Kuwait.”