Published: Thu, April 26, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Philippines 'displeased' over expulsion, arrest of Pinoys in Kuwait

Philippines 'displeased' over expulsion, arrest of Pinoys in Kuwait

"President Rodrigo Duterte and everyone else was shocked at this development because the president's meeting with the Kuwaiti ambassador went well", presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Manila demanded an explanation Thursday after its ambassador to Kuwait was expelled, shocking Philippine authorities and deepening a diplomatic row over the treatment of domestic workers in the Gulf state.

"We hope that this is Kuwaiti's way of just expressing its anger for which Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Cayetano had already apologized", Roque said.

In a statement Thursday, the country's Department of Foreign Affairs called Kuwait's move deeply disturbing and inconsistent with assurances given by ambassador Saleh during a meeting last Tuesday.

Courtesy Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs
Courtesy Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs

In a statement issued Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it also wanted the Kuwaiti government to explain the continued detention of four Filipino drivers hired by the Philippine embassy to help in the rescue, and the issuance of arrest warrants against three diplomatic personnel.

Labor officials from both sides were busy crafting a labor agreement-the signing of which would have marked the normalization of Manila's deployment policy-when the rescue of more OFWs in distress triggered an angry reaction from Kuwait.

Cayetano reiterated that Filipino officials resorted to rescuing the workers without coordination with their Kuwaiti as these were life-or-death situations.

While Cayetano is hopeful that Kuwait will clarify the "misunderstanding", he said the government is preparing for any outcome.

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The Philippines said it wanted to clarify the assurances given by the ambassador and "again underscored that the protection of the rights and the promotion of the welfare of Filipinos overseas would always be the guiding principle of the Philippines in its relationship with countries around the world, including Kuwait".

Following the verdict, Duterte this month announced plans to visit Kuwait to seal an agreement on workplace safety guarantees for the 252,000 Filipinos working in the Gulf nation.

"How can we now do that when the ambassador who was setting the date and was telling me, 'any day in the first week of May, ' was suddenly recalled and not answering our inquiries at this point in time", Cayetano said, referring to Selah.

The two countries have been working on a pact to protect expatriate workers after the Philippines banned its workers from going to Kuwait.

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Villa and the embassy staff had been proactively monitoring cases of OFWs in distress in recent weeks, following the shocking murder of OFW Joanna Demafelis who was found dead in a freezer of her Kuwaiti employer.

There are over 250,000 Filipinos in the Gulf State, and nearly half or 170,000 of them are hired for domestic services.

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