Cayetano: There was a misunderstanding with Kuwait on OFW rescue

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Cayetano: There was a misunderstanding with Kuwait on OFW rescue
Kuwait's Ministry of Interior had summoned Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa (center) to question the operations conducted by embassy officials to rescue distressed Filipino domestic helpers.
DFA / Released

MANILA, Philippines — There was a misunderstanding between the Kuwaiti government and the Philippine Embassy on efforts by consular officials to rescue distressed Filipino workers there, the Philippines said Monday.

Kuwait's Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier summoned Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa and handed him protest notes following a video showing embassy personnel rescuing Filipino domestic workers.

State-run Kuwait News Agency reported that the ministry "expressed regret over such practices, which could harm the friendship between the two countries."

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the Kuwaiti government questioned the embassy's rescue efforts and whether there were domestic laws violated.

The Philippines' top diplomat said that Villa was able to explain that all rescue operations were conducted in coordination with Kuwait's Ministry of Interior, as well as with local authorities.

"The question was why we conducted the rescue ourselves. Because these are cases involving grave danger and may be a matter of life and death for our OFWs," Cayetano told reporters in a mix of Filipino and English on Monday.

Cayetano added that Philippine government will also cooperate with embassies of other countries if their nationals are in danger while in the Philippines.

"That misunderstanding will be resolved. What is important is that we get to listen to the complaints, and before we sign the agreement (on OFW welfare in Kuwait) and lift the deployment ban, we have a system that works," Cayetano said.

Cayetano is scheduled to meet with the Kuwaiti ambassador to the Philippines on Monday afternoon to explain Manila's side in the issue.

The secretary also dispelled rumors that Villa is being asked by the Kuwaiti government to return to the Philippines within three days.

"They did not say that explicitly. There is no order to do that yet. We will tell you if ther is. But they’re doing some investigation now on the Kuwait side," he said.

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