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

  • 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.”

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

Updated 19 October 2019

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

  • The chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons for missing the timetable
  • She said the results would be announced “as soon as possible”

KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission conceded its failure to release initial presidential poll results set for Saturday and gave no new deadline for the vote which was marred by Taliban attacks and irregularities.
The presidential poll on Sept. 28 saw the lowest turnout of any elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ousting.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable.
“Regrettably, the commission due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said in a brief announcement.
Without naming any camp, Nuristani also said: “A number of observers of election sides (camps) illegally are disrupting the process of elections.” She did not elaborate.
Nuristani said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week.
The delay is another blow for the vote that has been twice delayed due to the government’s mismanagement and meetings between the US and the Taliban, which eventually collapsed last month after President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead.”
It further adds to political instability in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of conflict and foreign intervention and faced ethnic divides in recent years.
Both front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, have said that they expect to win.
The pair have been sharing power in Afghanistan as part of a US-brokered deal following the fraudulent polls of 2014.
The IEC has invalidated more than 500,000 votes because they were not conducted through biometric devices, bought for the vote from overseas to minimize the level of cheating in last month’s polls.
Officials of the commission said that nearly 1.8 million votes were considered clean and it was not clear what sort of impact the turnout would have on the legitimacy of the polls and the future government, whose main task will be to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
They said that the slowness of data entry on to the server was one of the technical reasons for the delay in releasing initial poll results.
Yousuf Rashid, a senior official from an election watchdog group, described the delay as a “weakness of mismanagement,” while several lawmakers chided IEC for poor performance.
Abdul Satar Saadat, a former senior leader of an electoral body, told Arab News: “The delay showed IEC’s focus was on transparency” and that should be regarded as a sign that it took the issue of discarding fraudulent votes seriously.