Philippine delegation visits Kuwait to seek clarification over visa suspension 

A Philippine delegation will travel to Kuwait on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said, as Manila seeks to tackle labor concerns and clarification over the Gulf state’s suspension of new visas for Filipinos.

The Philippines has been preparing for talks with the Kuwaiti government since earlier this year, following the gruesome murder of domestic worker Jullebee Ranara that sparked nationwide calls for a review of bilateral labor agreements and prompted Manila to suspend in February the deployment of first-time workers to Kuwait.

Last week, Kuwait suspended the issuance of new entry visas for Philippine nationals, a measure that overlaps the Philippine ban but also applies to other types of visitors.

“We are asking for an explanation (as to) whether tourists and ordinary workers are covered by the suspension. They need to explain it,” DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Eduardo De Vega said in a televised briefing on Monday.

De Vega said the Philippines “did not violate the labor agreement,” in response to reports coming out of Kuwait suggesting otherwise.

With some 290,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait, Philippine authorities will also seek to clarify how the visa suspension may affect overseas Filipino workers already working in the country once their employment contracts expire.

The reason behind the suspension remains unclear, but De Vega suggested it may be related to shelters provided by the Philippine Embassy for distressed Filipino workers, which are mandated under Philippine law to guarantee overseas protection for its nationals.

There may be some misunderstanding with Kuwaiti authorities over the facility, which the delegation will address during the trip this week, De Vega said.

“What is important is we let them hear our side.”