Duterte says Filipino workers in Kuwait must have seven hours’ sleep, good food and holidays

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers a speech during the 121st founding anniversary of the Philippine Army (PA) at Taguig city, Metro Manila. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Duterte says Filipino workers in Kuwait must have seven hours’ sleep, good food and holidays

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked for provisions such as seven hours’ sleep a day, nutritious food and holidays to be added to the bilateral agreement that is to protect the rights of Filipino workers in Kuwait.
Duterte said that he was late giving his scheduled speech at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) 39th commencement exercises in Silang, Cavite on Wednesday, because of work on the final draft of the agreement.
The president said after studying the document, he had inserted some provisions in the agreement.
“I demanded that it will be a contract — government to government — and that there will be some mandatory provisions like they (Filipino workers in Kuwait) should be allowed to sleep at least seven hours a day,” the president said.
He added that Filipino workers should also be fed “nutritious food.” “I will not, we will not allow leftovers to be eaten by our countrymen. They should be allowed to cook their own food,” he said.
The president also said that passports of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) should not be confiscated by employers and that OFWs should be allowed holidays.
Duterte reiterated that Filipinos are not slaves. “I have said that we are not slaves. Maybe our only fault would be ... because we are poor,” the president said.
Filipino Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told Arab News last week that after a brief impasse in the two-day negotiations between Philippines and Kuwait officials held in Manila, officials from both countries agreed a draft migrant labor protection pact.
In a telephone interview, Bello explained the delay was due to two ticklish issues — OFW passports being withheld by employers and employment contracts. He said the Kuwaiti officials eventually agreed to their proposals on both issues.
The draft agreement stipulates a $400 net-per-month salary for OFWs. Employers must open a bank account in which to deposit the worker’s salary. OFWs must also have mobile phones and be able to use them as well as other means of communication.
It was also agreed that an OFW must give a written consent where an employee is required to transfer from one employer to another, and that written approval for the transfer is obtained from the Philippine labor attache.


Macron visits Strasbourg as police probe shooter’s potential accomplices

Updated 2 min 18 sec ago
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Macron visits Strasbourg as police probe shooter’s potential accomplices

STRASBOURG: French President Emmanuel Macron visited Strasbourg on Friday, a day after police shot dead a gunman who killed four people at the city’s Christmas market, as investigators probe whether the extremist had any accomplices.
Macron placed a white rose on the Kleber monument, which has become a makeshift memorial in the center of the city with thousands of candles, flowers and messages, as soldiers sang the Marseillaise national anthem.
“The whole nation stands with the people of Strasbourg. This is what I wanted to tell them tonight,” said Macron, who had earlier taken part in a European Union summit in Brussels.
Annette, 80, one of the hundreds attending the Strasbourg memorial, said she “came to pray for those who are no longer here.”
The eastern French city near the German border slowly began to return to normality on Friday, with its famous Christmas market reopening after 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, a small-time criminal turned extremist, went on a shooting spree there on Tuesday evening.
He shot dead a Thai tourist, on holiday in Strasbourg with his wife, an Afghan who sought refuge in France some 20 years ago, a 28-year-old Italian journalist in town to cover the European parliament, and a local Frenchman who had just retired.
Twelve people were also wounded in his attack, including one who has been declared brain-dead.
The Daesh group’s propaganda arm said in a Twitter post that Chekatt was one of its “soldiers,” a claim which was dismissed on Friday by France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner as “completely opportunistic.”
France’s anti-terror prosecutor Remy Heitz said the investigation was now focusing on whether anyone “helped or encouraged Chekatt preparing or carrying out” the attack — or assisted him while he was on the run.
Seven people were in police custody on Friday, including Chekatt’s parents and two brothers, Heitz said.
Another brother, who like Chekatt was on France’s anti-terror watchlist for suspected extremists, has been detained in Algeria, sources close to the inquiry told AFP.
Officials praised the massive public help and quick police reaction that led to the death of Chekatt, a career criminal with 27 convictions in four countries, late on Thursday.
He was tracked down at around 9:00 p.m. (2000 GMT) when a police patrol spotted him on a street in the Neudorf district where he was last seen after his gun and knife attack on Tuesday night.
Around 800 people called in tips to a hotline after the authorities released his name and photo Wednesday night.
Two calls in particular were “decisive” in finding Chekatt, Heitz said.
The information allowed police to cordon off an area while a helicopter equipped with a heat-seeking camera flew over the gardens.
Spotted by a police patrol, Chekatt tried to escape by entering a building.
Unable to get in the door, he turned and shot at the three officers with a handgun as they tried to approach.
Two police officers returned fire and killed him, Heitz told a press conference in Strasbourg.
Questions remain over how Chekatt was able to evade the tight security perimeter set up around the Christmas market, a prime target for extremist groups.
Around 500 police, security agents and soldiers control access at checkpoints on the bridges leading to the river island, a UN World Heritage site, that houses the market.
The goal is to “create a bubble with searches at the entry points,” Mayor Roland Ries said after the attack, while regional government representative Jean-Luc Marx said he had not determined “any flaws in the security measures.”
France has been on high alert since the start of a wave of extremist attacks in 2015, which prompted a threefold surge in the security budget for the market, to one million euros.
Chekatt, a Strasbourg native who lived in a rundown apartment block a short drive from the city center, was flagged by French security forces in 2015 as a possible Islamic extremist.
But Defense Minister Florence Parly rejected criticism that Chekatt’s presence on the extremist watchlist should have prompted a more proactive reaction from the authorities.
“You can’t... arrest someone just because you think he might do something,” Parly told Radio Classique on Friday.
Strasbourg’s deputy mayor Alain Fontanel admitted that despite patrols, plainclothes police, profilers and video surveillance, “the risks can be reduced, but not eliminated.”
“We can’t pat down and search everyone, only carry out random checks,” he said, adding that huge lines at checkpoints would only create a new potential target for terrorists.
“Someone who wants to get in an area this big with a weapon can do it,” he said.