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.


Egypt denies Sinai battle is choking off food and medicine supplies

Updated 46 min 2 sec ago
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Egypt denies Sinai battle is choking off food and medicine supplies

  • Human Rights Watch warned of a wider humanitarian crisis if North Sinai continued to be cut off from the Egyptian mainland, saying the army’s actions “border on collective punishment.”
  • Air strikes and raids have killed scores of suspected militants, the military says, as it imposes curfews and tight movement restrictions around towns in North Sinai.

CAIRO: An Egyptian military campaign to defeat Daesh militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula is choking essential food and medical supplies to thousands of residents in the desert region, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. The army denied the charge.
The New York-based organization warned of a wider humanitarian crisis if North Sinai continued to be cut off from the Egyptian mainland, saying the army’s actions “border on collective punishment.”
The army launched an operation in February to crush militants who have waged an insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers, police and residents over many years.
Air strikes and raids have killed scores of suspected militants since then, the military says, as it imposes curfews and tight movement restrictions around towns in North Sinai. The army has said it is winning the battle.
A military spokesman denied there were shortages, saying it was providing food and medical support throughout the areas it operated in, The HRW report had used “undocumented sources” in its report, he said.
“Thousands of food parcels have been and are being provided to people in North Sinai,” Col. Tamer Al-Rifai, the spokesman, added.
International news outlets are prevented from traveling to North Sinai to report.
Residents said food supplies, medicine and fuel were insufficient and that movement restrictions meant most people were unable to leave the region, HRW reported.
“A counter-terrorism operation that imperils the flow of essential goods to hundreds of thousands of civilians is unlawful and unlikely to stem violence,” HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson said.
The report said authorities had banned the sale of petrol and cut communication lines, water and electricity in some areas of North Sinai including near the border with the Gaza Strip.
Residents told Reuters last month they often waited for hours for bread handouts which were not guaranteed to arrive.
Defeating the militants and restoring security after years of unrest that followed Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising has been a promise of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who was re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.
El-Sisi’s critics say he has presided over Egypt’s worst crackdown on dissent. Supporters say such measures are needed to bring stability and improve the country’s hard-hit economy.
In Sinai, analysts and foreign diplomats say heavy-handed military tactics including air strikes and demolitions of populated areas have failed to defeat the insurgency.