Cabinet told of action in Philippines row – Duterte visit being finalized, Interior makes third arrest

MALACANANG AWAITS INFORMATION ON KUWAIT PROTEST

KUWAIT CITY, April 23, (Agencies): Kuwait has taken effective measures in response to the “incendiary remarks” made by the Filipino ambassador to the country, Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said on Monday. Kuwait has taken umbrage at the Filipino envoy’s comments as well as the “questionable conduct” on the part of Manila’s diplomatic staff in the country, the Kuwaiti foreign minister told the Cabinet in its weekly meeting.

He stressed that the actions have been deemed a threat to Kuwait’s sovereignty in a country that prides itself on its immaculate human rights record. Similarly, Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah informed the executive body that the Kuwaiti interior ministry has taken action in this regard as well.

Kuwait had summoned the Philippines’ ambassador twice last week in protest over “inflammatory comments” he made to a local newspaper. A man, who is allegedly complicit in enticing housemaids to run away from their employers’ houses, has been apprehended, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior (MoI) said on Monday.

Two cars, seen in a recently circulated video showing some people assisting Filipino domestic helpers to escape from their employers’ households, have also been seized in a crackdown, the ministry said in a press statement.

The detainee admitted that he had lured Filipino domestic workers to quit their work, it added. Two Filipinos were caught on Sunday for allegedly helping female housemaids of the same nationality run away. During investigations, they confessed that they had encouraged Filipinas to escape from their employers’ houses.

In another development, MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, commenting on Monday on the Philippine embassy’s rapid intervention force to smuggle abused Filipino workers from their sponsors’ homes, said before taking any action against the Philippines, the ambassador of Kuwait in Manila and the entire Kuwait embassy staff must be recalled. He added, on his Twitter account, “Then there will be an escalation against the Philippines embassy in Kuwait in terms of considering the ambassador ‘persona non grata’ and expelling the rest of the mission members.

Lawyer files case
Meanwhile, Lawyer Ayed Mudhi Al-Rashidi has filed a petition to the Public Prosecution Department against diplomats at the Embassy of Philippines citing Article 15 of the external security penal code and Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

Al-Rashidi said his lawsuit was filed administratively for accelerated hearing to compel the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take necessary steps against the Ambassador of the Philippines to Kuwait by declaring him a persona non grata and expel him for violating Articles 8 and 49 of Kuwaiti Constitution.

He affirmed that Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations of 1961 stipulates that consular officials cannot be arrested or detained on awaiting trial except in case of serious crime and execution of relevant court decision. He reminded the embassy officials violated sovereignty of the country and embarrassed government officials.

The action also exposed the weakness of its government and insufficient mannerism in handling the kind of statements and actions for which those diplomats have been accused.

Meanwhile, in the midst of ongoing ‘uncertainties’, the Philippines presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, the Malacañang or the presidential palace expects Cayetano to issue a statement on what exactly happened in Kuwait on the issue of ‘rescuing’ socalled distressed household workers, according news.mb.com.

The statement was expected to be issued within a day. “Secretary of Foreign Affairs has not officially informed the palace of what has happened in Kuwait. And because of this, I will have to defer to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs on this matter,” Roque said during the palace press briefing. “So, we are awaiting information from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Although the President is the Chief Architect of Foreign Affairs, the reality is day to day diplomacy is conducted in his country for the President by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs,” he added. Roque went to say the facts about the incident in Kuwait were still unclear and said ‘they’ prefer to wait for Cayetano’s official word before commenting on the issue.

Earlier, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs had reportedly summoned the Philippines Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa to protest his alleged infl ammatory comments against Kuwait and his alleged inappropriate behavior showing his staff in a viral video rescuing distressed Filipino workers. However, he admitted though the President wants to visit Kuwait “to tell them why they should be more humane to Filipino workers.”

At the same time, the Philippine ambassador to the country, Renato Pedro, in reply to what was said that members of the Philippine Embassy’s so-called ‘rapid intervention force” enters the houses of the Kuwaitis to rescue or smuggle the maids, he explained the embassy always moves in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, reports Al-Anba daily.

In case the police delays to respond in urgent cases, the embassy moves to help but never enters the houses of sponsors. He told the daily, his country takes into consideration the popular pressure on the Kuwaiti government from all quarters, which was why he was summoned twice by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Friday and Saturday.

On the issue of popular calls for his ‘dismissal’, the envoy said, he learned about such calls during his visit to the Foreign Ministry. The governments of the Philippines and Kuwait are now finalizing details of the possible visit of the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte to Kuwait following reported abuses of overseas Filipino workers there, according to globalnation.inquirer.net. “It’s being finalized,” a source told Inquirer.net when asked about the status of Duterte’s visit to Kuwait, which developed as Duterte met with Kuwait’s Ambassador to the Philippines Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh in Davao City, Monday.

Also present during the meeting were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go. Duterte earlier had said he would visit Kuwait ‘to give honor’ to its government,” which had agreed to a deal giving OFWs better treatment and witness the signing of the accord.

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