Duterte apologizes to Kuwait over ‘harsh language’ in outburst

By Genalyn D. Kabiling

SEOUL – President Duterte has issued a public apology to Kuwait for the “harsh language” used in his past outburst over the reported abuse of some Filipino workers.

The President acknowledged his mistake as he announced plans to visit Kuwait “even just for a few hours” to express thanks for signing a labor protection agreement.

“I’d like to thank the government of Kuwait. And for the first time, I would say that I was harsh in my language, maybe because that was a result of an emotional outburst but I’d like to apologize now,” Duterte said during a meeting with the Filipino community in South Korea last Sunday. “I’m sorry for the language that I was using. I’m very satisfied by the way how you responded to the problems of my country,” he added.

The President had launched a tirade against Kuwait following cases of abuse and exploitation of some Filipino workers. He was furious about the abuses endured by Filipino despite the country extending aid to Kuwait during the Iraqi war.

The recent brutal death of a Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis also prompted the President to impose a temporary deployment ban of workers to Kuwait. The controversy eventually triggered negotiations to forge an agreement providing additional protection for Filipino workers in Kuwait.

In his remarks, the President said he intends to visit Kuwait after granting his requests for better working conditions for Filipino workers such as seven hours of sleep, access to cellphone and passport, and protection from abuse.

“I think I’ll go there. I’d like to thank the Kuwaiti government for understanding us and keeping their faith us and practically gave to all of my demands,” Duterte said.

“They all agreed and if true, which I have no doubt the Kuwaiti government will honor. In return, I’d like to go there even just a few hours to say maraming salamat,” he added.