Cayetano apologizes over Kuwait rescue video
The Philippine government apologized for the controversial rescue of Filipino housemaids in Kuwait, but still maintained that it was the necessary move at the time.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in an ambush interview on Tuesday that he had explained to the ambassador of Kuwait that this was “in the spirit of emergency action to protect Filipinos.”
This develops in the aftermath of a rescue mission made by the Philippine embassy that has been seen by Kuwait as a violation of the latter’s sovereignty. Videos of the mission have gone viral online.
Although coordinating with the Kuwaiti authorities is protocol, Cayetano said there are “certain exceptions” when the situation becomes a matter of life and death.
“We are apologizing for certain incidents that Kuwaitis view as a violation of their sovereignty, but we have explained to them that these acts, we felt, were necessary for saving and protecting Filipino lives,” he said.
He said that the Philippines’ reasons were “well-founded” given the “red line” that Duterte drew for the protection of Filipinos both here and abroad.
Both sides have agreed to put up certain measures to address the current welfare of over 170,000 Filipino domestic workers in the Arab country, Cayetano said.
These measures, he said, would involve the strengthening of a 24/7 hotline for distressed workers, the repair of shelters for overseas Filipino workers “in a period of transition,” and justice for the abused.
There are still 600 Filipino workers in shelter. Cayetano said they are working on their “immediate repatriation.”
Moreover, he said there are still pending requests for “assistance.” During the briefing, he said he would rather call it assistance instead of rescue.
Of the 200 that asked for assistance, he said the Philippine embassy has already acted on more than 70 of them before the issue with the rescue mission broke out.
He said Kuwaiti authorities are being informed regarding over a hundred people that are still requesting for assistance. Their cases vary, he said, from expired contracts to abuse.
He also said that the Kuwaiti ambassador understood the Philippines’ concerns, but Cayetano clarified that “understanding and agreeing are two different things.”
“That’s the status. We expect things to settle down, that the relationship to restrengthen, and we expect to sign the agreement soon,” he said.
He was referring to the deal for the protection of Filipino migrant workers in the Gulf state. He said both sides are hoping that it would be signed before Ramadan next month.
Kuwaiti police arrested two members of the Philippine embassy during the rescue mission. When asked for an update, he said that they still weren’t freed yet as of Tuesday morning.
“We are taking action both there and here and it was part of the discussion today. We assured them [Kuwait] that they [the Filipinos arrested] were simply hired to drive the vans and we will take responsibility over the actions taken,” he said.
While there were two Filipinos arrested, while he was still verifying if there was also another one that got caught. /jpv
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