Kuwait assures Duterte of commitment to protecting OFWs


THE government of Kuwait remains committed to protecting the welfare of more than 200,000 Filipino working there, its envoy to the Philippines, Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh, assured President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night.

The President received Althwaikh in Davao City to discuss concerns of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), including the rescue by the Philippine embassy of those who are distressed.

The meeting, which was also attended by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, was held days after the Kuwaiti government summoned Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa in connection with the rescue efforts.

“During the meeting, Ambassador Saleh reiterated to us the commitment of the Kuwaiti Government to protect and ensure the welfare of our more than 250,000 kababayans working there,” the DFA said in a statement.

The Philippine government for its part vowed to respect the sovereignty of Kuwait and the dignity of the Kuwaiti people.

“We also agreed to continue to work together to address matters of mutual concern and will update the public of developments,” the DFA added.

Cayetano, in a recent interview, maintained that the efforts to rescue distressed household workers in Kuwait were done in coordination with the Ministry of Interior.

The DFA also appealed to the public to allow it to engage with its Kuwaiti counterparts.

“We are optimistic that following our conversation with Ambassador Saleh, the remaining issues between the Philippines and Kuwait will be resolved,” it added.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian on Tuesday commended Philippine diplomats in Kuwait for their efforts to save distressed OFWs in the Gulf state.

Gatchalian, a member of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, said the extraordinary rescue mission by embassy officials and staff in Kuwait were borne out of an urgent necessity to save OFWs from dangerously abusive situation.

He also expressed belief that the rescue teams would not act their own except in emergency cases and only after a clear showing of inaction on the part of Kuwaiti authorities despite due notice to them of the dire circumstances being faced by the OFW in danger.

“Clearly, then, there is no intent to infringe on the sovereignty of Kuwait. Philippine diplomats are merely taking swift action to ensure that no OFW in Kuwait will ever again meet the sickening fate of the late Joanna Demafelis,” the senator said.

Demafelis, 29, was a Filipina household worker who was killed and kept inside a freezer by her Lebanese employer in Kuwait.

The rescue mission, however, was condemned by some members of the Kuwaiti Parliament who viewed the embassy’s actions as a clear violation of the country’s sovereignty and called for the expulsion of Villa.

“With all due respect to my counterparts in the Kuwaiti Parliament, I believe that their call for the expulsion of the Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait, Renato Villa, is an unreasonable reaction to the desperate circumstances on the ground,” Gatchalian said. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA



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