MANILA – There is a high chance that President Rodrigo Duterte would be exempted from travel restrictions imposed by the Kuwaiti government on Filipinos who want to travel to the Gulf state, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace may opt to request to allow Duterte to visit Kuwait.
Panelo made the statement as he noted that Duterte would push through with his plan to visit Kuwait.
“Knowing this President, I think he will pursue what he said,” he said.
“Puwede naming pag-usapan ‘yan, government-to-government (There can be a government-to-government negotiation). They can always exempt the President,” he added.
Panelo, however, said Duterte has yet to schedule his visit to Kuwait.
Senator Christopher Lawrence Go earlier said Duterte intends to visit Kuwait by either March or April this year.
Kuwait has imposed a travel ban on the Philippines due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.
The entry prohibition covers Filipinos who have a “valid residency” in Kuwait or “previous entry visa”.
In a press conference at Malacañan, Duterte expressed his desire to visit Kuwait to personally appeal to the Kuwaiti government to impose the “maximum” penalty on the suspects involved in the killing of Filipino domestic worker Jeanalyn Villavende.
Villavende’s employers are facing murder charges in Kuwait.
Autopsy results released by the National Bureau of Investigation bared that Villavende suffered abuse until shortly before her death on Dec. 28, 2019. There were also clear indications that she was sexually abused.
Villavende’s death prompted the Philippine government to impose a total deployment ban on Filipino workers to Kuwait in January.
The Philippines lifted the deployment ban in February after the Kuwaiti and Philippine governments approved a “harmonized” employment contract for Filipino workers.
The contract seeks to prevent abuse by including provisions that allow workers to keep their passports and mobile phones; specify their work and sleep hours and be granted a paid full-day off every week.
The harmonized agreement also disallows Filipino workers’ transfer to another employer without their written consent and a written approval of the Philippine labor attaché. (PNA)