PH should ask Kuwait to drop ‘persona non grata’ tag on Villa, says Locsin
Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr. has urged the government to ask Kuwait to drop the “persona non grata” label on Ambassador Renato Villa after it has mended relations with the oil-rich Arab state.
So far the only incumbent ambassador to publicly defend the expelled career ambassador, Locsin said the Kuwaitis also knew that Villa did not deserve the strongest censure a nation could slap on a foreign diplomat.
“The priority after fixing (the) Kuwait issue is getting the persona non grata label off of our good Amb(assador) Villa,” Locsin said in a tweet on Wednesday.
“The Kuwaitis know he doesn’t deserve it and that he was caught in the crossfire and thrown under the bus,” he continued. “Villa should get a “great posting” since “good men are hard to find.”
Villa, who had been the Philippine ambassador to Kuwait since June 2015, returned home on May 2 after he was declared persona non grata by his host country.
Kuwait protested after the Department of Foreign Affairs released videos of diplomatic staff helping distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) flee from the homes of their employers.
Locsin earlier called Villa a “hero” for his dedication to OFW concerns.
“If anyone is a hero in this Kuwaiti problem it is Amb(assador) Renato Villa, the first OFW who became ambassador,” Locsin said in a tweet on May 3.
A week earlier, a group of career diplomats sent Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano a confidential memo expressing their “dismay and distress” that the well-respected yet unassuming Villa was declared persona non grata.
The career diplomats asked Cayetano, an avid social media user, to review protocols on social media use after the fallout from the rescue videos in Kuwait.
They said “the use of social media in the documentation and conduct of its work, particularly in situations of great sensitivity and critical circumstances, where lives must be protected and the highest level of professionalism and discretion, is needed.”
The diplomats also attested that Villa is known in the career service and to OFW communities as “an upright and decent man and a devoted, hardworking public servant.”
Kuwait was Villa’s first ambassadorial post and he has earned the respect and goodwill of the Filipino community and embassy staff in Kuwait.
Longtime Kuwait-based OFW Rowena Tinio, who frequents the Philippine Embassy, described Villa as “the kindest ambassador we have come across.”
She said Villa was very approachable and very supportive of the activities of the Filipino community.
When news broke out that Villa was given a week to leave Kuwait, the embassy staff and some OFWs including Tinio, were in near tears.
Tinio recalled that Villa did not show any bitterness, only “showed acceptance.”
“I saw a true humble leader that moment. We lost a great father, a wise brother and a good friend, never owning his time but always a public servant,” she said. /ee
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.