Ousted Philippine Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno speaks to supporters at a rally outside the Supreme Court building on Taft Avenue, Manila, Philippines May 11, 2018.

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Ousted Philippine Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno speaks to supporters at a rally outside the Supreme Court building on Taft Avenue, Manila, Philippines May 11, 2018.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night lifted the total deployment ban to Kuwait, days after the Philippines and the Arab nation inked a deal on the protection of Filipino migrant workers there.

“Upon recommendation of Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte tonight instructed [Labor] Secretary Silvestre Bello to totally lift the ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The Philippine government’s action came a day after it announced the lifting of deployment ban to cover skilled and semi-skilled workers.

Duterte imposed in February a deployment ban on newly hired OFWs to Kuwait, caused by cases of abuses, among them the killing of Joanna Demafelis whose body was found inside a freezer in an apartment previously occupied by her employers.

Negotiations for the deal followed, which nearly fell through following the controversial rescue of distressed OFWs by the Philippine embassy staff last month.

Videos of the rescue of Filipinos by Philippine diplomatic staff from their Kuwaiti employers circulated in the media, angering the Kuwaiti government which viewed the act as a violation of its sovereignty and decried what it called as “inappropriate behavior” by the diplomatic staff.

Kuwait also expelled Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and recalled its envoy in Manila.

Duterte then sent some of his officials last week to thresh out issues with Kuwait, which culminated in the signing of a labor pact advancing the protection and welfare of OFWs.

Some 260,000 Filipinos live and work in Kuwait, mostly household service workers, according to government estimates. —NB/BAP, GMA News

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