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

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.

India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018

India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

  • Afghan, Indian leaders “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership”
  • The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

NEW DELHI: India and Afghanistan reviewed bilateral civil and military cooperation during a one day of meetings in  New Delhi on Wednesday.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which the two sides “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership.”

A press release from the Indian Prime Minister’s office announced after the meeting: “It was agreed to deepen the New Development Partnership in the areas of high impact projects in this field of infrastructure, human resources development and other capacity-building projects in Afghanistan.” 

 The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

 “I would like to thank the Indian people for their commitment to Afghanistan's future,” Ghani said in a speech in New Delhi before leaving for Kabul.

“What India-Afghanistan share is deep and binding trust in democratic institutions,” he added.

Modi supported an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process” and pledged “India's unwavering commitment to support the efforts of the government of Afghanistan to this end, as also for the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan.”

 “Peace with the Taliban is important so that we can concentrate on counter-terrorism. The Taliban is part of Afghan society, ISIS (using another term for the terror group Daesh) is not. We must make that distinction,” Ghani said in his address at the New Delhi-based think tank, India Foundation.

 Commenting on Ghani’s visit, Vishal Chandra of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), a New Delhi-based think tank, said: “The timing of the visit is significant; he has come at a time when the Afghan forces are under great pressure from the Taliban and Daesh.” He added that Ghani was looking for wider regional support in initiatives to stem the rising tide of terrorism.

Talking to Arab News, Chandra underlined that “there is no question of India involving itself militarily in Afghanistan, but it might step up its efforts to ensure that they have better air capability and they don’t have shortage of ammunition. I don’t expect India to supply heavy weaponry.”

Harsh V. Pant, director of the think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said: “Despite India scaling up its presence in the defence sector, New Delhi’s military presence in Afghanistan is limited.

“The appetite in India for military involvement is very small; there is no consensus about the military footprints New Delhi should have in Afghanistan. But there is a consensus that New Delhi’s security cooperation with Kabul should be extended and should be robust and that is what India is doing.” 

In his book “India’s Afghanistan Muddle” Pant argued that “India cannot evolve its equity in Afghanistan unless some form of military involvement happens.”

Pant told Arab News: “The visit of Ghani at this time is a sign of a certain maturity in the relationship where Afghanistan feels that India should be kept in a loop. The relationship has grown to an extent that two sides are comfortable with each other in sharing assessment about where the political trajectory is going.”