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Mittwoch, 25. April 2018, 03:20

Gov't apologizes to Kuwait over rescue of OFWs

Das Außenministerium scheint ja von dem Schlaumeier schlechthin geleitet zu werden....

Gov't apologizes to Kuwait over rescue of OFWs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) — The country's top diplomat on Tuesday apologized to the Kuwaiti government after a video of a rescue mission of distressed Filipino workers in the Arab country went viral.

"I apologize to my counterpart, and we apologize to the Kuwaiti government, Kuwaiti people, the leaders of Kuwait, if they were offended by some actions taken by the Philippine embassy in Kuwait," Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

He reiterated that the Filipino officials resorted to rescuing the workers without coordination with their Kuwaiti counterparts as these were life-or-death situations.

He said the Kuwaiti government "has accepted our explanation."

Still, the government is sending a note containing an apology to Kuwaiti officials, Cayetano said.

"Because in their view it is a violation of Kuwaiti law, and we exceeded our rights under international law," he said, adding that if it happened in the Philippines, officials would also prefer that the police be tapped for the rescue operation.

"In diplomacy, you have to build a bridge," he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier on Tuesday said the rescue can be "offensive to the concept of sovereignty," but said the Philippines and Kuwait have agreed to move forward from the issue.

No expulsion, arrest of diplomats
Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa was summoned to explain the rescue mission, but Cayetano said "there was no threat to have him expelled."

He also clarified that Filipino diplomats were not arrested, but chose to run to the Philippine embassy in Kuwait only as an "extra precaution."

The video that went viral was provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to its Viber group with the media on April 19.

Cayetano said he immediately ordered his men to delete the video, but it has quickly spread on the Internet.

PH-Kuwait ties
Cayetano said the governments of both countries have agreed to come up with a mechanism for cooperation to immediately help any distressed overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

Of 200 OFWs who recently sought government assistance, 70 have been rescued, Cayetano said, which means over a hundred more are waiting for help.

It does not stop with rescuing the OFWs, Cayetano said, stressing that abusive employers "should be brought to justice."

The spat between the two countries is also not hampering the highly-anticipated signing of a labor deal. Cayetano said both sides hope to sign the memorandum of agreement "before Ramadan," which begins next month.

President Rodrigo Duterte had listed his demands for the protection of Filipino workers in the draft agreement which the government seeks to be signed soon in Manila.

The two governments are ironing out the labor deal in the wake of a deployment ban to Kuwait. It has been in place since February 15 after the tragic death of household helper Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer.

Her death prompted Duterte to order the repatriation of distressed OFWs from Kuwait. There are over 600 pending requests for repatriation, Cayetano said, but stressed that the government is working to bring them home.

There are over 250,000 Filipinos in the Gulf State, and almost half or 170,000 of them are hired for domestic services.

CNN Philippines' Rex Remitio contributed to this report.
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