Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano insists that no crime was committed in the rescue of distressed Filipinos in Kuwait that led to the expulsion of Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and the issuance of warrants of arrests to embassy personnel.
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Cayetano: 'No crime' in rescue of distressed OFWs in Kuwait
(philstar.com) - May 3, 2018 - 12:29am

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano insists that no crime was committed in the rescue of distressed Filipinos in Kuwait that led to the expulsion of Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and the issuance of warrants of arrests against embassy personnel.

READ: Philippines-Kuwait ties: How bad is the diplomatic crisis?

"It has been our argument from the start that there is no violation of any conventions, there was no crime, etc." Cayetano told reporters in a televised interview at NAIA after the arrival of Villa in the country.

"That's being sorted out now and we're quite confident the two foriegn ministries will agree," he said.

Villa was declared persona non grata and expelled following the conduct of "rescue" operations by Philippine Embassy officials, a video of which was released to the public by DFA.

READ: Kuwait rejects sovereignty breach amid diplomatic row with Philippines

Kuwait accused embassy officials of violating the Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations and issued warrants of arrest against personnel of the embassy following the incident.

Cayetano explained that the embassy there does not respond to requests for rescue from distressed Filipinos without coordinating with the Kuwait government.

"That's why out of the 38 rescues, 35 were coordinated, and the three we believed needed to by acted upon immediately, we did it ourselves which is acceptable and is a duty under international law," Cayetano said.

"But it caused a commotion to them. Thats why I said 'I apologize if our actions seemed to violate your sovereignty, but let me assure you its in the spirit of protecting our nationals'," he added.

READ: Cayetano: We're not blaming anyone on Kuwait fiasco

Cayetano said that the embassy personnel were issued warrants of arrest for kidnapping but said they were covered by diplomatic immunity.

"Even if they're not [covered], there was no crime. But they said we have to sort it out, they have to investigate and we are getting near to understanding each other," he said.

The diplomatic row had soured relations between Kuwait and the Philippines. The Kuwait Foreign Ministry has recalled their ambassador to the Philippines.

Cayetano and President Rodrigo Duterte had previously met with the Kuwaiti Ambassador in the Philippines to personally apologize for the incident but a day later the Kuwait Foreign Ministry issued the declaration of persona non grata against Villa.

READ: Cayetano: Embassy's action in Kuwait 'rightful' move

Duterte later announced that he is making the deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait permanent. Labor Secretary Silverstre Bello III however clarified that it was not permanent.

The Philippines implemented the deployment ban in February following reports that some workers in Kuwait were being maltreated by their employers.

Duterte announced the ban days after the discovery of Filipina worker Joanna Demafelis inside a freezer at an apartment in Kuwait. A Kuwaiti court has sentenced Demafelis' employers to death.

ALAN CAYETANO RENATO VILLA
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