MANILA, May 5, (Agencies): The Philippines presidential palace the Malacañang said Saturday talks between the governments of the Philippines and Kuwait continue to mend ties which have suffered a setback following the controversial rescue of what the Philippines embassy in Kuwait called ‘distressed’ Filipino migrants in Kuwait, according to abs.cbn.news.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said discussions were ongoing between the two countries after Kuwait accused the Philippines of violating the country’s laws and saw it as an affront to its sovereignty which led to the declaration of Philippines ambassador to Kuwait persona non grata.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said talks between the two nations were “bearing fruit”. The issues between Manila and Kuwait were being ironed out, he said. “We do believe we can come up with a win-win solution that we don’t think our rights were violated (and), at the same time, the Kuwaitis will not think that we do not respect their domestic law,” Cayetano said.
The cnn.philippines, quoting Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras said Philippine Labor officials in Kuwait did not know about the rescue mission which caused the souring of the relationship between the two countries.
“The DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) people, OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) people were not part of this so-called rescue. It is purely a work of the Embassy,” Paras said.
He speculated that people may have called the Embassy to tip them off regarding supposedly maltreated workers, and responded. “Being Filipinos, that’s their job — to protect the Filipinos there — and they did their job,” Paras added.
Congressman Ruffy Biazon, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Kuwaiti officials were “offended” by the actions of the Philippine Embassy staff. He said he understands the sentiments of the Kuwaiti officials and added, had the same incident happened in the country, “I would cry foul as well.” Biazon is calling for calm on both sides as discussions on how to move forward from the incident are forthcoming.
He said he agreed with President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to suspend deployments to Kuwait, and that the country should reconsider its deployment policies. He said domestic household workers are the most vulnerable.
The country should instead deploy more skilled workers. Vice-President Leni Robredo said mending the Philippines’ diplomatic ties with Kuwait starts with “a willingness to accept accountability and a conviction to do what is right.” She said the Philippines should “prevent further harm from being inflicted on our OFWs” in Kuwait.
“These must start with an honest and candid acknowledgment of the crisis, a willingness to accept accountability, and a conviction to do what is right,” she said. She called on the DFA to make use of its career diplomats to restore the two nations’ possible deal for the protection of OFWs in Kuwait. “Protecting the welfare of our OFWs in Kuwait is our paramount concern.
This is why we supported the deployment ban announced by the administration last February as well as the pursuance of the Memorandum of Understanding with Kuwait to protect our workers,” she added. Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano insisted that there was no crime committed in the rescue of distressed Filipinos in Kuwait.
“It has been our argument from the start that there is no violation of any conventions,” he said. He went on to say, he was willing to step down from his post if President Rodrigo Duterte or even the majority of Foreign Service officers wanted him to amid the diplomatic row between the Philippine and Kuwait.