Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to ban his countrymen and women from working in the Middle East over concerns of mistreatment.
The premier’s comments on Wednesday come less than a week after he banned Filipinos from working in Kuwait after four domestic workers were abused and committed suicide.
A ban would affect the more than two million Filipinos currently employed across the Middle East, many as maids and retail workers.
“One more incident about a woman, a Filipina worker being raped there, committing suicide, I’m going to stop — I’m going to ban” Filipinos working, Duterte said before boarding a flight to attend a regional summit in India, according to AFP.
“And I’m sorry to all the Filipinos there, they can all go home.
“Let me be blunt about this because Kuwait has always been an ally. But please do something about it and for the other countries of the Middle East.”
Philippine foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano was separately quoted as saying that Duterte had reacted to a report detailing abuses in Kuwait.
He said there was a “grave concern” about the incidents in the country, which is home to 250,000 Filipino nationals. Those already working in Kuwait are unaffected by the ban.
Officials from both sides have met over the last week with Kuwait initially expressing surprise that the Philippines had taken such a drastic step.
Cayetano said the country was “sending a message” to end the abuse of its citizens working abroad.
An estimated 10 million Filipinos work abroad and they send billions of dollars in remittances home each year.