Published: Wednesday 02 May, 2018

Many OFWs in Kuwait Won’t Return Amid Duterte’s Call to ‘Come Home’

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte called on overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Kuwait to come home amid the diplomatic row with Kuwait. But many OFWs said they will stay in the Gulf state despite Duterte’s call for ‘patriotism’. 

According to those interviewed by GMA News and ABS CBN News, they need to stay in Kuwait for the sake of their families back home. Many are breadwinners who send money back home for their children’s education, parents’ medical needs, and other expenses of their family members. If they leave their jobs in Kuwait, what would happen to their families, they asked.

“Ayaw nilang umuwi kasi mawawalan sila ng trabaho sa Pinas. Paano naman? Tapos may edad na. Paano naman sila tatanggapin agad [sa trabaho] e may mga edad na,” said Maria Isabel Solalima when interviewed by ABS CBN News. Solalima, who has been in Kuwait for 28 years, think there are no opportunities for her to earn a living in the Philippines.

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Another Pinoy, Manny Geslani, agreed. “Ako hindi naniniwala na mayroong mga ganoong Pilipino na uuwi dahil sa sinasabi ni Presidente na patriotism. ‘Patriotism will not feed my family,’ yan ang sasabihin ng mga OFW doon,” he said.

“Honestly, hindi ako aalis dito hangga’t mismo ‘yung Kuwait government o ‘yung employer mismo ang magsabi sa ‘yo na ‘uwi ka na, hindi ka na kailangan.’ We will continue working, we will continue send our remittances that helps our economy back home,” said Hengie Taton, a nurse in Kuwait, when interviewed by GMA News.

Duterte made the call to OFWs upon his arrival last week from Singapore. He said it is apparent that Kuwait does not want Filipinos anymore after the Philippine ambassador was aexpelled. Aside from the ambassador, other officials were either arrested or detained after video of allegedly distressed OFWs being rescued from their employers went viral.

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Kuwait has since referred to the diplomatic spat as a “misunderstanding and exaggeration”, and said that they are willing to resolve the issues.

“This is largely a misunderstanding and exaggeration of some minor or one-off cases but we do not believe in escalation and want to remain in direct communication to resolve the problem,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Nasser al-Subaih.