Duterte meets second batch of repatriated Filipino workers from Kuwait

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while addressing Filipino Overseas Workers who were repatriated from Kuwait, on Feb. 13, 2018 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in suburban Pasay city southeast of Manila, Philippines. (AP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Duterte meets second batch of repatriated Filipino workers from Kuwait

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte personally welcomed 116 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been repatriated from Kuwait.

In his speech at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Duterte told his audience not to lose hope and that his administration would assist them and provide them with employment opportunities.

“We are here to see to it that every Filipino is treated decently,” he said.

On Monday, the Philippines banned its citizens from traveling to work in Kuwait and began to repatriate the thousands of Filipinos already employed there. The first batch of more than 300 repatriated OFWs arrived in Manila on Monday.

The ban was sparked by Duterte’s anger over the treatment of Joanna Demafelis, a domestic worker whose body was found last week inside a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait that had been abandoned by her Lebanese employer in 2016.

Duterte said the government is willing to give land to those interested in farming it, adding that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also runs a livelihood program for returning OFWs.

The president said he could assure Filipino workers that the government has the necessary resources to look after them on their return home, and underscored that the decision and the urgency with which it was implemented were for the protection of OFWs.

Duterte also said the government would examine other markets for OFWs — citing China and Japan as examples of markets that are opening up to Filipino workers — but that his administration is already increasing efforts to attract foreign business to the Philippines in a bid to create more jobs locally.


Row over Putin’s attendance at Austria minister’s wedding

Austria's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl addresses the media before a two-day cabinet meeting in Seggau, Austria, in this January 5, 2018 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 August 2018
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Row over Putin’s attendance at Austria minister’s wedding

  • The invitation to Putin has angered Kiev, which said it would prevent Austria playing a role in the Minsk agreements aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine
  • Putin confirmed he would be attending the wedding before heading to talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel near Berlin on Saturday evening

VIENNA: The expected attendance of Russian President Vladimir Putin at Saturday’s wedding of Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl sparked a row Friday over whether the visit was appropriate.
“How is Austria’s presidency of the EU meant to live up to the government’s own claims of building bridges (between the EU and Russia) and being an honest broker, when Austria’s foreign minister and chancellor are so obviously on one side?” asked MP Andreas Schieder of the opposition Social Democrats (SPOe).
SPOe MEP Evelyn Regner said the invite sent a “shameful” image of Austria to its EU partners, branding it “a provocation of European proportions.”
The Greens called for Kneissl’s resignation, pointing out that “Vladimir Putin is the EU’s most aggressive enemy in matters of foreign policy.”
Kneissl, 53, who was nominated for the post by the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), will marry businessman Wolfgang Meilinger in a ceremony in a wine-growing village near the southeastern city of Graz.
Putin confirmed he would be attending the wedding before heading to talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel near Berlin on Saturday evening.
Putin’s attendance was originally described as a “private event” by Kneissl’s office but has since been upgraded to a “working visit.”
Several hundred police officers will take part in the security operation around the wedding.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the center-right People’s Party (OeVP) and FPOe Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache are also expected at the ceremony.
In 2016, the FPOe signed a “cooperation pact” with Putin’s United Russia party.
The invitation to Putin has angered Kiev, which said it would prevent Austria playing a role in the Minsk agreements aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The foreign ministry has insisted that Putin’s visit “will not change anything in terms of Austria’s foreign policy positions.”
The invitation has even provoked some criticism from within Kurz’s own OeVP party, with one of its MEPs Othmar Karas saying: “I can’t grasp the logic and the purpose of making such a personal occasion political and open to misuse in this way.”
Russia has been accused of seeking to weaken and divide the EU, notably by maintaining links with populist parties in several European countries.
Kurz’s OeVP and the FPOe have been in coalition together since December after an election campaign in which both parties ran on anti-immigration platforms.