Cayetano thanks Kuwait for ‘positive gestures’ after diplomatic row
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano thanked Kuwait for its “positive gestures” that helped avert a near diplomatic fallout due to the controversial rescue of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Gulf State.
In a statement he issued after arriving in Kuwait on Thursday night, Cayetano said Kuwait is working closely with the Philippines “to realize our shared desire of not only normalizing the relations between our two countries but also in ensuring the well-being of the more than 250,000 Filipinos working here.”
Cayetano is in the Gulf state to witness the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on OFW protection between the Philippines and Kuwait this Friday.
“As a result of these efforts, Kuwait was convinced to agree to, among others, the repatriation not only of our kababayans in our shelters but also those who are still in households awaiting help; the activation of a 24/7 hotline that distressed Filipinos can call for assistance, and the creation of a special police unit that would assist the Embassy in responding to calls for assistance,” Cayetano said.
In April, a diplomatic row ensued between the Philippines and Kuwait after Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa led a rescue of abused Filipino maids. The move displeased Kuwaiti authorities who arrested Filipino drivers hired for the rescue operations.
Three Filipino diplomats were also ordered arrested by Kuwaiti authorities for kidnapping charges after the controversial rescue of the maids. However, Malacañang said on Thursday that the diplomats are expected to be released within two to three days.
READ: Palace: PH diplomats in Kuwait to be released in 2-3 days
In his statement, Cayetano said he was “heartened by the positive gestures of the Kuwaiti Government, most especially in the past several days, that assured us of its firm commitment to help ensure the well-being of thousands of our kababayans who they have so generously been hosting in the past four decades.”
“This assurance from the Kuwaiti Government is one of the preconditions set by the President before we could consider signing the proposed Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers between the Philippines and Kuwait,” he added.
Cayetano also said Kuwait has agreed to release the four Filipino drivers who were taken into custody for assisting the Embassy in rescuing the distraught OFWs.
The four drivers were released to the Embassy on Tuesday, as confirmed by both Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
‘Behind the scenes’
“We also have been working behind the scenes with our Kuwaiti counterparts to facilitate the immediate return to Manila of our three colleagues from the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Cayetano said, adding that they are confident that the diplomats will be released in a few days.
Cayetano also mentioned that he will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah “to assess how much we have accomplished so far and how much farther we are willing to go in our engagement.”
“It is our hope that the momentum created by the goodwill generated by our two sides during the past three weeks would lead to the signing today of the Memorandum of Agreement between our two countries,” Cayetano said.
Meanwhile, Cayetano also expressed his gratitude to the Philipppine media “for giving us the diplomatic space that allowed us to secure the guarantees that we wanted from our Kuwaiti counterparts.”
“I would also like to thank those who gave us the benefit of the doubt, those who kept their faith and trust in us knowing that in the end, we would be able to accomplish our mission to ensure the safety and well-being not only of Filipinos in Kuwait but also our kababayans in other parts of the world,” he said. /vvp
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