Philippines ‘apologizes’ to Kuwait after rescuing domestic workers

Philippines ‘apologizes’ to Kuwait after rescuing domestic workers
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) meeting Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh (L) at the presidential guest house in Davao City, in southern island of Mindanao. (AFP)
Updated 24 April 2018

Philippines ‘apologizes’ to Kuwait after rescuing domestic workers

Philippines ‘apologizes’ to Kuwait after rescuing domestic workers
  • Rodrigo Duterte last month ordered workers in Kuwait to return over reports of abuse
  • There are 600 Filipino workers in embassy-run halfway houses in Kuwait

MANILA: ThThe Philippines on Tuesday apologized for actions by its embassy in Kuwait that the Gulf state viewed as a violation of its sovereignty.

The embassy “rescued” several domestic workers from their employers’ homes amid reports of abuse.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano apologized to his Kuwaiti counterpart, and to the government, people and leaders of the Gulf state “if they were offended by some actions taken” by the embassy.

The apology followed a meeting on Monday between President Rodrigo Duterte and Kuwaiti Ambassador Musaed Saleh Ahmad Al-Thwaikh to resolve issues concerning the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Gulf state.

The meeting, held at the Presidential guest house in Davao City, “ended positively,” said Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque.

Also present at the meeting were Cayetano, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, and Department of Foreign Affairs officials.

Among the issues discussed were the protest notes served by Kuwait’s government to the Philippine ambassador over the “rescue” of distressed OFWs, Roque said. 

Both parties underscored that while the Philippines continues to exercise its obligation to protect its nationals abroad, it will do so in a manner that respects Kuwait’s sovereignty, he added.

“It was a frank but very cordial discussion. And I understand that after the meeting, both parties reiterated their mutual support for each other and parted even closer as friends,” he said. 

“Whatever ill feelings may have resulted because of the leak of the video have been settled,” Roque added, referring to a viral video that showed embassy personnel rescuing an OFW from the residence of her employer.

Cayetano told Arab News that Al-Thwaikh “accepted the explanation” that the embassy acted “to protect Filipinos.”

The minister said Kuwait has expressed its commitment to the protection and welfare of Filipinos via “mechanisms of cooperation and collaboration.” 

The Philippines assured Kuwait “that we will follow their laws, respect Kuwaiti sovereignty and uphold the dignity of their state by acting within the bounds of law and international law.”

Despite the controversy, Manila said the two sides are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the terms and conditions for protecting OFWs in Kuwait. 

“Both states have invested time, resources, effort, and I think both are serious in signing this MoU,” said Roque.

“We can’t deny we have to provide employment for our countrymen, but I think the Kuwaiti side has recognized that they also need the services of our countrymen, so it is in that sense of mutual need for each other that we negotiated that MoU.”