The Philippines on Friday suspended sending workers to Kuwait, a day after President Rodrigo Duterti complained that abuses there had prompted a number of domestic workers to commit suicide. 
Kuwait expressed surprise at the move and said it was in touch with Manila to try to resolve the matter. 

Philippine Labor Minister Sylvester Bello told Reuters the suspension of sending workers to Kuwait would be "pending an investigation into the causes of the death of some six or seven Filipino workers abroad" and did not mention specific cases or disclose when those deaths occurred. 
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs estimates there are more than 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, most of whom work in domestic service. A large number of Filipinos work in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Douterti said on Thursday that he was thinking of preventing workers from going to Kuwait because Manila had recently "lost four women" there, referring to domestic workers who said they had been abused and committed suicide. 

He was aware of many cases of sexual abuse suffered by Filipinos in Kuwait and that he wanted to discuss the issue with the Kuwaiti Government and "convey the truth and inform them that this was no longer acceptable." 
Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah expressed his "regret and surprise" at Duterti's remarks and said legal measures were taken in the cases mentioned by the Philippine president. 

"We immediately contacted the Philippine authorities to find out the truth and the dimensions of this statement and to work to refute the false information contained therein," he said.

The agency said that Al-Jarallah pointed out that the number of Filipino workers residing in Kuwait exceeds 170 thousand and that his country has laws that protect the rights of these workers and regulate their relationship with employers and prevent their being subjected to any attacks or abuses. 
"The four cases mentioned in the president's statement can not be taken to infer or measure the status of Philippine employment," he said. 
More than 2.3 million Filipinos are registered as workers abroad. The total cash transfers exceed $ 2 billion per month, which boost strong consumer spending in one of the fastest growing economies in the world

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