‘Some misunderstanding’ fogged Duterte-Kuwait ambassador Davao meet
President Rodrigo Duterte and Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh had “some misunderstanding” during their meeting in Davao City on Monday night.
This was revealed by Malacañang on Tuesday but Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was quick to say that it was “not serious.”
“They had a very productive meeting, I understand. And they were able to thresh out differences. There were some misunderstanding but it was not serious,” Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source.”
Asked to expound about the misunderstanding, Roque said it was a “misunderstanding arising perhaps from the video.”
“There was this unnecessary aggravation caused by a video. The video showing Philippine authorities operating in the territory of Kuwait will be offensive to the concept of sovereignty. Kuwait could be offended because you have police authorities operating in their territory,” he said.
The DFA had earlier released a video showing embassy officials in Kuwait enticing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes.
The Kuwaiti government has summoned Philippine Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa and has filed a diplomatic protest over the rescue of Filipino housemaids there without informing Kuwaiti authorities.
In a Palace briefing, Roque said Duterte was able to fix the misunderstanding between the Philippines and Kuwait.
“They parted on [a] positive note, emphasizing that while the Philippines will always exercise its obligation to protect its nationals abroad, they will do so in a manner respecting the sovereignty of Kuwait,” he said.
“So iyong mga hindi pagkakaintindihan siguro, eh alam ninyo na kung ano iyon ‘no, iyong pinoprotesta ng Kuwait. Pero I think, naayos naman po ni Presidente iyong sigalot na ‘yan. Minor lang naman, na naayos niya,” he added.
(So the misunderstanding, you already know what it is, what Kuwait is protesting. But I think the President was able to fix the friction. It was minor and he fixed it.)
Roque said Duterte’s approach was effective as it pacified the situation.
“So, tinrato niya nang barkada iyong Kuwaiti Ambassador at siyempre eh magre-reciprocate naman iyong Kuwaiti Ambassador ‘no. So kung anuman iyong hindi napagkasunduan, eh naayos naman ‘no amongst friends ‘no. So kaya nga po, tuloy pa rin iyong signing ng ating MOA at tuloy pa rin iyong ating pagkakaibigan sa bansang Kuwait,” he said.
(So he treated the Kuwaiti Ambassador like a friend and of course the ambassador reciprocated. So whatever the misunderstanding was, it was fixed amongst friends. The signing of the MOA will go through and our friendship with Kuwait will continue.)
Deal to proceed
Roque said the Philippines and Kuwait would proceed with the signing of deal to give better treatment to OFWs in the Gulf state.
“I don’t think it was ever in danger. I think both parties have invested time, resources, effort and I think both are serious in signing this [MOA],” he said.
The Palace official said the recent misunderstanding did not sour the bilateral relations of the Philippines and Kuwait.
“If it did, then the MOA would not be signed. But I understand it will still be signed. So I don’t see how our position was weakened. I cannot see also the President not insisting on his obligation to protect Filipino nationals,” he said.
Asked if the President apologized to the Kuwaiti government through the ambassador, Roque said, “I don’t think that was necessary at all.”
“He may have a very friendly approach, a personalistic approach but he is also a man of political will. I think he made it very clear that he had no other option but to protect Filipino workers in Kuwait,” he said.
Duterte had earlier ordered a total ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait following the reported abuse of Filipino workers there, especially after the death of Filipino domestic helper Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found stuffed inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait a year after she was reported missing.
A Palace source told INQUIRER.net that the government is now finalizing details of Duterte’s visit to Kuwait to witness the signing of a deal giving Filipino workers better treatment amid reported abuses.
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