MANILA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines is assessing the situation of its citizens working abroad to find out if there is a need to widen the ban on the deployment of workers to include other countries than Kuwait, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday.
"We are doing an audit now and find out the places where we deploy Filipinos and our countrymen suffer brutal treatment and human degradation," Duterte told reporters in the central Philippines city of Iloilo.
Duterte flew to Iloilo to condole with the family of Filipina domestic worker Joanna Demafeliz, who had been murdered in Kuwait. Her body was found earlier this month inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment. Philippine authorities believed the killing had happened over a year before.
Duterte has ordered a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait in the wake of reported deaths and abuse of many Filipino workers there.
The Philippines has recently repatriated nearly 3,000 Filipinos reportedly being abused in Kuwait. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the embassy there is still processing the repatriation of at least 10,800 undocumented Filipinos.
Kuwait, which was surprised by Duterte's order to ban sending new workers there, has extended its amnesty program to allow the embassy to process the papers of several thousands more of undocumented Filipinos to return to the Philippines.
Most of the distressed workers overstayed or ran away from their abusive employers.
The Philippine DFA remains in close coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to ensure a successful outcome of negotiations with the Kuwaiti government, aiming at improving the protection mechanisms for the more than 250,000 Filipinos working there.
The abuses of Filipino workers in Kuwait has been going on for years already, according to Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
Hans Leo Cacdac, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief, clarified during a Senate inquiry that a total of 196 Filipino workers died in Kuwait since 2016, 79 percent of which were medical cases, 7 percent accidents, 11 percent alleged suicides and 3 percent unspecified cases.
The Philippines is one of the world's largest labor exporters. The economy is heavily reliant on the remittances the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) send home.
Due to lack of employment in the Philippines, up to 12 million Filipinos work abroad to seek greener pastures.