Philippine envoy hopeful of mending fences with Kuwait

Philippine envoy hopeful of mending fences with Kuwait
Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa was welcomed by DFA Secretary Alan Cayetano upon his return in the country. (Photo courtesy of Department of Foreign Affairs)
Updated 03 May 2018

Philippine envoy hopeful of mending fences with Kuwait

Philippine envoy hopeful of mending fences with Kuwait

MANILA: Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa, who returned home on Wednesday night after being expelled from Kuwait, expressed hope for a resumption of cordial bilateral relations.
He was expelled following the Philippine Embassy’s “rescue” of Filipino workers from their employers’ homes in Kuwait.
“I sincerely hope that we can all move forward and work together with Kuwait in securing… our distinct core national interest: The wellbeing of overseas Filipinos,” said Villa, who was ambassador to the Gulf state for almost three years.
Despite his expulsion, he said he “will always have fond memories of Kuwait and its hospitable people.” He expressed pride and honor in having been given the opportunity to serve as ambassador.
Villa was received in the Philippines by Foreign Minister Allan Cayetano, who thanked Kuwait for its desire to move forward and work with Manila to address concerns regarding Filipino workers.
Cayetano particularly thanked Kuwait’s foreign minister, who appealed for calm so both sides can resolve the “miscommunication.”
Cayetano said: “The positive response we have received from Kuwait now provides us with an excellent opportunity to write a new chapter that should allow us to overcome any and all future challenges between the two countries.”
He added that talks are ongoing but declined to provide details, including when he is scheduled to meet with his Kuwaiti counterpart.
“We’re taking multiple routes,” he said, adding that the Labor and Foreign Ministries are undertaking parallel efforts.
Labor Minister Silvestre Bello III and other Cabinet members are scheduled to head to Kuwait on May 7.
Cayetano said: “As we continue with our engagement with our Kuwaiti counterparts, we would like to ask for the kind patience and understanding of our people, most especially those who have been affected by the recent misunderstanding.”
Political analyst Ramon Casiple expressed optimism that relations will eventually normalize, telling Arab News: “I don’t see ties being cut off. Filipinos want to go to Kuwait for jobs, and Kuwaitis need Filipino workers.”
Even if a permanent ban on deploying workers is imposed, as is the case with Iraq, many Filipinos will still find a way to work in Kuwait, in which case they will become more vulnerable to illegal recruiters, he said.
The Philippine president urging all Filipinos in Kuwait to return home “will not mean anything” because they would prefer to keep their jobs in the Gulf state, Casiple added.