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PH envoy in Kuwait: Rescue of OFWs always coordinated with authorities

/ 11:20 PM April 22, 2018

Kuwait has summoned Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa for the second time to protest allegedly “inflammatory remarks” he made to a local newspaper and for “inappropriate behavior” of the Philippine diplomatic staff in rescuing distressed Filipino workers from their employers’ houses.

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This development was reported on Sunday in a story posted on the website of the Kuwait Times, which cited an unnamed source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait.

According to the report, the summons came following video that spread on social media showing a team from the Philippine Embassy helping Filipino domestic workers escape from their employers’ houses using vehicles with diplomatic plates.

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Villa reportedly admitted to Al-Jarida, an Arabic language newspaper, that such operations had been going on for a month.

But in a news conference on Sunday, the ambassador denied this, saying that he had been misquoted.

“The embassy always coordinates with the interior ministry when responding to requests of assistance from our nationals,” the Kuwait Times quoted Villa as saying. “This is standard procedure and we will continue to do so. All the efforts undertaken in the past weeks are to ensure that we resolve our outstanding issues before the signing of the memorandum of agreement and the upcoming visit of our president.”

Villa also told reporters the embassy could not be successful in its efforts to help Filipino workers in distress without the help of the Kuwaiti government.

In a statement, which was recorded live by PTV, the Philippine government TV station, he said: “In this connection I would like to clarify a statement attributed to me that ‘we do not need the help of Kuwaiti authorities, particularly the police, in extending assistance to our nationals.’ The embassy always coordinates with the Ministry of the Interior and the police when responding to requests for assistance from our nationals. This is standard procedure. And we will continue to do so.”

Asked if embassy personnel had been forcibly entering houses of employers, he said: “No it’s not true. We do not force our way into the houses of Kuwaitis to get our workers. We coordinate with the police and the police are the ones pursuing the employers to settle the problem.”

He said the embassy would answer the concerns of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, possibly within the week.

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President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a ban on further deployment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, following reports of abuse by employers, notably in the case of Joanna Dimafelis, a maid whose body was found in the freezer of his employers’s abandoned apartment. /atm

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TAGS: abused OFWS, Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Renato Villa
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