Duterte ban leaves 10,000 Filipinos stranded

Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) look on after arriving in Manila from Kuwait at Manila International Airport. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2018
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Duterte ban leaves 10,000 Filipinos stranded

MANILA: As Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made good on his threat to ban his citizens from going to Kuwait for work, some 10,000 Filipino workers are now stranded in their home country despite having all the necessary documents, said recruitment and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani.

“Filipinos who want to work in Kuwait are being prevented from being able to earn income for their families,” he told Arab News.

“Around 10,000 are stranded (in the Philippines), both skilled and household service workers.”

Recruitment agencies, which collect full payment once workers start their employment, are incurring considerable costs in having paid for their training, as well as feeding and accommodating them while they wait to leave, he added.

The Philippine government on Monday ordered the ban, weeks after Duterte complained about abuses and maltreatment suffered by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait.

But Geslani said: “Out of the 170,000 Filipino household workers in Kuwait, only 2 percent really have problems.”

The ban covers all workers being sent for the first time to Kuwait for employment, without distinction as to skill, profession or type of work. But Geslani said the ban should only cover household workers, not those who are skilled.

The Philippines has also started repatriating thousands of OFWs in Kuwait. So far, more than 2,200 have been issued travel documents, and 1,754 have been granted immigration clearance.

Those interviewed by Arab News, most of them household workers, said they went to Kuwait to provide a better life for their families. “Now I come home with virtually nothing for my children,” said Salama, from Cotabato City.

Citing figures from the Central Bank, Geslani said the ban will not have a major impact on the Philippine economy because OFW remittances from Kuwait account for only 3 percent of foreign remittances. That percentage “isn’t really big,” he added. “That’s about $1.5 billion annually.”


Over 400 Afghan women aim to break male stranglehold on Parliament

Updated 18 October 2018
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Over 400 Afghan women aim to break male stranglehold on Parliament

  • Of 2,691 candidates vying for seats in Afghanistan's parliament, more than 400 are women
  • Their aims are to encourage a consensus among female members of Parliament and to end the reliance on factional leaders and strongmen with power and wealth

KABUL: For women in Afghanistan’s Parliament, what a difference a year makes.

Last December, the government proposed 12 candidates for ministerial positions; only one was female, and she failed to win enough votes.

Now hundreds of women aim to be agents of change by standing for Parliament in elections on Saturday.

More than 400 of the 2,691 candidates are women. Their aims are to encourage a consensus among female members of Parliament and to end the reliance on factional leaders and strongmen with power and wealth.

“The young and new candidates are a powerful tool to make Parliament exercise its rights as stipulated in the constitution,” said Zahra Nawabi, 28, a candidate from Kabul who has two master’s degrees.

“Our priority should be women, first and foremost addressing their health. Parliament should not become a source of shame for the nation.”

The practice of wealthy figures and men with power supporting their own choice of female nominees was a greater threat to Afghan democracy than the threatened attacks on the election process by Taliban insurgents, she said.

“The government needs to intervene to stop this, otherwise the next Parliament could be worse than the current one.”

Shinkay Karokhail, who was elected as an MP in 2005, was re-elected in 2010 and is standing again, admitted that female MPs had failed to form a powerful bloc in Parliament. Some of them regarded themselves “as extra-ordinary,” she said, and it was too early to say whether any of the new batch of candidates would be an improvement.