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OFW bound for Saudi found comatose in Kuwaiti hospital.

By Malu Cadelina Manar and Genalyn D. Kabiling

Kidapawan City - A relative of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who hails from Maguindanao province has expressed fears after posts of her in a coma in a hospital in Kuwait came out in the Facebook account of a Filipina nurse.

The Facebook user said she posted the video of the Filipina domestic helper to inform her relatives of her situation.

The Filipina was later identified as Norisa Manambit, 36, from Barangay Kauran, Ampatuan, in Maguindanao.

Lady Mae Besa, in an interview over Catholic-ran dxND here, said she only learned of her aunt's case through her friends on Facebook.

She said her aunt has been missing since January this year. Their last communication with her, was during the last quarter of 2017.

According to Besa, her aunt left the Philippines in 2017 to work as a domestic helper in Daman in Saudi Arabia and seeing her in a coma in a Kuwaiti hospital came as a surprise to them.

"How can that be? We were so sure she went to Daman, Saudi Arabia. How did she arrive in Kuwait?" asked Besa.

Besa was told that sometime in January this year, Manambit had a heated altercation with her employer after she was caught using a mobile phone.

The altercation allegedly resulted in a fight that led to her employer calling the police and had her locked up inside a prison cell in Daman.

"But when friends visited my aunt in Daman Prison, they did not find her there," said Besa.

Besa said they immediately sought help from Manambit's agency in the Philippines.

Allegedly, a staff told them not to report the incident to any media outlet or to the Philippine government while they are still making a follow-up on her case.

"But weeks had passed and we were not given yet the information that we need to appease us. The agency has promised to update us on my aunt's case. But until now, they would only give us false promises," she stressed.

Manambit has gone twice to Saudi Arabia to work as a househelp before she was reported missing in January.

Besa expressed their concern over Manambit's situation after reports on Joanna Demafiles, an OFW who was found dead inside a freezer in Kuwait, came out in the news and on social media.

Also, they wanted to find out Manambit's health situation but none from the agency could provide them the facts.

"We are praying she's okay. But we're in a limbo and this is making us so worried," she said.

Manambit is a documented worker, according to Besa.

Expansion of ban mulled

With abuses against Filipino workers, President Duterte said the Philippine government might expand the ban to other countries that treat them like "slaves" and degrade them like "animals."

The President has raised the possibility of expanding the coverage of the deployment ban to Kuwait, insisting that he would not allow the abuse and maltreatment of Filipino workers abroad.

"The ban will continue and it will extend to other countries. Mahirapan sila, well, humihingi na ako ng tawad sa inyo. I will not allow... Hindi... Wala akong kaplano na ipadala kayo doon tapos babuyin kayo. Hindi ko style 'yan [They will have a hard time. I am asking for your forgiveness. I will not allow... I have no plan to send you there where you will be maltreated. That's not my style],"Duterte said during 10th biennial national convention and 20th anniversary celebration of the Chinese Filipino Business Club, Inc. at the Manila Hotel on Monday.

"The Filipino is a slave of nobody. The Filipino seeks to work abroad to earn a living so that he can help his family because the economy here, local, cannot absorb the entire workforce who would want to," he added.

The President had earlier ordered a deployment ban of workers to Kuwait after denouncing the reports of brutal deaths and other abuses committed against Filipinos. A furious Duterte has warned that karma might catch up with the Gulf state for supposedly tolerating the abuses of workers there.

In his remarks last Monday, the President appealed anew to countries that host Filipino workers to treat them with dignity and respect.

"I'm addressing myself, not only to Kuwait but to the entire nations in the world to say that Filipinos are everywhere seeking livelihood, can I please plead to you? Please do not degrade them like animals, do not treat them as a slave," he said.

Duterte acknowledged the country was poor and that many Filipinos work abroad to give a better life for their families. He added that the deployment of Filipino workers abroad was "an indictment" of the government which could not provide adequate jobs at home.

"We have not been able really to climb economically to provide comfort living for everybody... that is why we have to allow them to go out," Duterte said.

"The only thing that - things that we ask is that you give us the dignity of a human being, you treat us humanely, be tolerant of our cultural differences," he told the countries hosting Filipino workers.

"Do not abuse our women because it will inflict a long and lasting wound. Maybe this generation cannot and will not forget it," he added.

The President also said he was prepared to accept the consequences, including a backlash over the deployment ban of workers to Kuwait.

Duterte said he prefers the Filipinos working in Kuwait to return home and promised to provide them with assistance.

"Will it involve hardships? Yes. Will it involve sacrifice? Yes. Would it mean anger? Yes. To me, yes. Tanggapin ko lahat [I will accept everything]," he said.

"I'm ready to admit everything but the ban stands. Umuwi lang kayo dito maski na papaano matulungan ko kayo maski sa pagkain [You should go home. At least I can help you even with food]," he added.

Meanwhile, Kuwait has invited President Duterte to visit, state news agency KUNA said on Monday, as the countries seek to settle their differences over allegations of extreme abuse of migrant workers in the wealthy Gulf state.

Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah said on Monday that the two countries had agreed to sign a deal to regulate working conditions.

"We proposed to the Philippine authorities to resolve and contain these issues and not to escalate them in the media. There was agreement on this... and we received a response," he was quoted as saying. (With reports Reuters)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:7KUWA
Date:Feb 21, 2018
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