Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that a ban on Filipino workers from heading to Kuwait that's been in effect since February would now be permanent, inflaming a dispute sparked by complaints of the abuse of Filipina housemaids and workers in the Persian Gulf country.
Kuwait expelled the Philippine ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Manila over the dispute. The highly unusual move came as a surprise in Kuwait, a typically sedate and oil-rich nation that has been both a long target of Duterte's criticism and heavily reliant on Filipina nannies and maids.
"The ban stays permanently," Duterte said at a news briefing. "There will be no more recruitment for especially domestic helpers. No more." There was no immediate reaction from Kuwaiti officials. The two nations had been negotiating an end to the ban, imposed following the shocking discovery in February of a Filipina stuffed into a freezer in Kuwait City for over a year.
But the arrest of two Filipinos associated with the embassy last April over allegedly convincing maids to flee their employers' homes and Ambassador Renato Villa's comments reported in Kuwaiti media over the effort appears to have been too much for Kuwait to accept.
Philippines called Kuwait's decision "deeply disturbing," saying it "reneged" on an earlier agreement to work together. Duterte said that Filipino workers already in Kuwait may stay in the country if they wish, adding...