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DFA’s OFW ‘rescuers’ need rescuing in Kuwait

/ 07:24 AM May 06, 2018

The rescuers now need rescuing.

The Philippines and Kuwait are holding “sensitive” negotiations to extricate three Filipino diplomats who face arrest for kidnapping after the Philippine Embassy rescued allegedly abused Filipino maids from their employers’ homes, according to Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

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The rescue mission, a video of which was uploaded on the internet, angered Kuwait, calling it a violation of its sovereignty.

The negotiations seek to repair bilateral ties after Kuwait formally protested against violations of diplomatic protocols and expelled Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa, Cayetano said.

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‘Restricted’

For the first time since the diplomatic row between Manila and Kuwait broke out two weeks ago, Cayetano admitted on Friday that the movement of the diplomatic staff holed up inside the embassy in Kuwait had been “restricted,” but they were not under threat.

Cayetano said “efforts to resolve the issue are moving.”

Four other Filipinos, whom Cayetano said were hired as drivers, were immediately arrested for taking part in the rescue mission.

Cayetano said the embassy, invoking security, refused to give to Kuwaiti authorities the names of its personnel who were involved in the operations to rescue distressed Filipino housemaids that allegedly were not coordinated with local authorities.

“But they have identified some people [involved], so as a precaution they stayed in the embassy. And there’s a pronouncement of the Ministry of Interior that there will be an investigation and possibly kidnapping” charges, Cayetano told reporters.

Not like hostage situation

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He said there was “back and forth communication” between Kuwaiti and Filipino authorities to avoid putting embassy personnel at risk.

“We do believe that we can come up with a win-win solution [where] we don’t think our rights are violated and at the same time the Kuwaitis will not think that we do not respect their domestic law,” he added.

“It’s nowhere like a hostage situation” at the embassy, Cayetano said.

“You can say it’s just restricted movement. They are just there. But there are negotiations and everything. To be fair to the Kuwait side, there’s no threat,” he added.

He said the Philippine Embassy remained open to attend to concerns of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), with a senior official in charge after Villa left.

30 in embassy

There are 30 personnel inside the Philippine Embassy, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The three diplomats threatened with arrest, who were not identified by the DFA, were among those sent to Kuwait to support the embassy staff process the mass repatriation of OFWs in the final days of the amnesty for undocumented workers in Kuwait, which ended on April 22.

After Kuwait vowed to take action against those who participated in the rescue, the diplomatic personnel transferred from their hotels to the embassy.

Cayetano insisted that the country’s diplomats did not commit a crime nor violate Kuwait’s sovereignty or diplomatic protocol in launching the rescue.

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TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, DFA, OFWs in Kuwait, Renato Villa, rescue of OFWs
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