Cayetano apologizes to Kuwait over OFW rescues

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat on Tuesday revealed that he has apologized to his Kuwaiti counterpart if they were violated by some actions of the Philippine Embassy upon rescuing distressed Filipino domestic helpers.

Kuwait's Ministry of Interior recently summoned Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and handed him protest notes following a viral video showing the rescue of Filipino workers.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that he had explained to Kuwaiti Ambassador Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh that the Philippine government had to take action upon receiving requests for help from distressed Filipino workers.

RELATED: Philippines asks for 'diplomatic space' while settling issues with Kuwait

"There are certain exceptions when there is life or death threat to our nationals. When we receive a call, sasabihin papatayin na ako or in danger so action has to be swift and action has to be given right away," Cayetano told reporters.

The general rule was that the Philippine Embassy coordinates with the Kuwaiti government when providing assistance or rescue to Filipinos but some cases were exceptional, he added.

"It is in this spirit that I apologized to my counterpart and we apologized to the Kuwaiti government, Kuwaiti people and the leaders of Kuwait if they were offended by some actions taken by the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait," Cayetano said.

"But we have explained to their ambassador and their ambassador has accepted this explanation. Of course, we will also send it to our counterparts that this was all done in the spirit of emergency action to protect Filipinos," he added.

Last night, President Rodrigo Duterte met with the Kuwaiti envoy in Davao City to discuss concerns of OFWs and other sensitive issues between the Philippines and Kuwait.

During the meeting with Duterte and other Cabinet officials, the Kuwaiti ambassador relayed Kuwait's commitment to ensure the welfare of the more 250,000 Filipinos working in their country.

"Then the Philippine side has assured the Kuwaiti side that we will follow their laws, that we will respect Kuwaiti sovereignty and uphold the dignity of their state by acting within the bounds of law and international law," Cayetano said.

Cayetano earlier admitted that there was a misunderstanding between Kuwaiti authorities and the Philippine Embassy regarding the rescue operations for distressed OFWs.

Meanwhile, the Philippines and Kuwait agreed to put in mechanisms for the welfare of OFWs such as strengthening the 24-7 hotline, working closely with Kuwait police and fixing shelters for Filipino domestic workers.

RELATED: Cayetano: There was a misunderstanding with Kuwait on OFW rescue





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