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Kuwait decision to expel PH envoy surprises Palace

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 11:29 AM April 26, 2018

Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque. YANCY LIM / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Malacañang is surprised over the decision of Kuwait to expel Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa following the controversial rescue of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

READ: Kuwait gives PH envoy one week to leave amid dispute

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“Eh nagulat po talaga ang lahat sa mga developments na ito, dahil mahusay po ang pag-uusap sa panig ng ating Presidente at ng Kuwaiti ambassador; at sa panig po ng ating secretary of Foreign Affairs at ng Kuwaiti ambassador din kahapon,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over radio dzMM on Thursday.

(Surely, many were surprised by these recent developments because just recently we had a very pleasant discussion, between the President and Kuwaiti ambassador; also between our secretary of Foreign Affairs and Kuwaiti ambassador.)

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On Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte met with Kuwait Ambassador to the Philippines Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh in Davao City.

READ: Duterte visit to Kuwait now being finalized

While Roque admitted that there were “some misunderstanding” regarding the rescue of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) there, he said Duterte was able to fix the issue.

“They parted [ways] on [a] positive note, emphasizing that while the Philippines will always exercise its obligation to protect its nationals abroad, they will do so in a manner respecting the sovereignty of Kuwait,” he said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday.

READ: ‘Some misunderstanding’ fogged Duterte-Kuwait ambassador Davao meet

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also issued an apology on Tuesday over the controversial rescue of OFWs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had earlier released a video showing embassy officials in Kuwait enticing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes.

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The move angered the Kuwaiti government, saying the rescue was not coordinated with authorities.

On Wednesday night, Kuwait gave Villa one week to leave the Gulf state.

He was earlier summoned over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s efforts to rescue OFWs who were abused by their employers.

Kuwait has also recalled its own ambassador from Manila.

“So, nagulat po tayo at ngayon po ang pinag-aaralan kung ano ang mangyayari. Pero ang assurance lang po ng Presidente sa ating panglabas na relasyon, ang pangunahing concern po ng Presidente ay iyong kapakanan ng ating mga mamamayan, ng ating mga OFWs, dahil iyan naman po talaga ang ating misyon — na pagsilbihan ang ating 11 million na mga OFWs na nandiyan po sa buong mundo,” Roque said.

(We are surprised and we are studying what will happen next. But the assurance of the President for our foreign relations, the prime concern of the President is the welfare of our countrymen, of our OFWs, because that is our primary mission—to serve our 11 million OFWs around the world.)

The Palace official expressed confidence that the apparent diplomatic row would not affect the expected signing of a deal that would give better treatment to domestic helpers in Kuwait.

“Well ang importante lang po, bago po ito nangyari, ay talaga namang all systems go tayo para doon sa ating memorandum of agreement at mukhang nagkasundo na nga doon sa minimum terms and conditions for employment — kasama iyong bakasyon, iyong pagkain at saka iyong passport para sa ating mga manggagawa diyan sa Kuwait. Pero sa tingin ko naman, hindi ito mababago,” he said.

(Well, what’s important , before all of these happened, is that we are all systems go regarding our memorandum of agreement and it’s like there had been an agreement in the minimum terms and conditions for employment—including the vacation, food and the passport issues of our workers there in Kuwait. For me I think there had been no changes.) /jpv

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TAGS: Duterte, Kuwait, OFW, Palace, row, Villa
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