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

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.”


Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

Updated 19 October 2019

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

  • The chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons for missing the timetable
  • She said the results would be announced “as soon as possible”

KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission conceded its failure to release initial presidential poll results set for Saturday and gave no new deadline for the vote which was marred by Taliban attacks and irregularities.
The presidential poll on Sept. 28 saw the lowest turnout of any elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ousting.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable.
“Regrettably, the commission due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said in a brief announcement.
Without naming any camp, Nuristani also said: “A number of observers of election sides (camps) illegally are disrupting the process of elections.” She did not elaborate.
Nuristani said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week.
The delay is another blow for the vote that has been twice delayed due to the government’s mismanagement and meetings between the US and the Taliban, which eventually collapsed last month after President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead.”
It further adds to political instability in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of conflict and foreign intervention and faced ethnic divides in recent years.
Both front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, have said that they expect to win.
The pair have been sharing power in Afghanistan as part of a US-brokered deal following the fraudulent polls of 2014.
The IEC has invalidated more than 500,000 votes because they were not conducted through biometric devices, bought for the vote from overseas to minimize the level of cheating in last month’s polls.
Officials of the commission said that nearly 1.8 million votes were considered clean and it was not clear what sort of impact the turnout would have on the legitimacy of the polls and the future government, whose main task will be to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
They said that the slowness of data entry on to the server was one of the technical reasons for the delay in releasing initial poll results.
Yousuf Rashid, a senior official from an election watchdog group, described the delay as a “weakness of mismanagement,” while several lawmakers chided IEC for poor performance.
Abdul Satar Saadat, a former senior leader of an electoral body, told Arab News: “The delay showed IEC’s focus was on transparency” and that should be regarded as a sign that it took the issue of discarding fraudulent votes seriously.