Kuwait expels Philippine envoy amid tensions over domestic workers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 25 2018 09:42 PM | Updated as of Apr 26 2018 01:37 AM

Kuwaiti gov't has also recalled its ambassador from Manila

MANILA (6th UPDATE) - Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa on Wednesday confirmed he has been ordered by the Kuwaiti government to leave the country following a diplomatic dispute.

Villa, however, declined to comment further.

The Kuwaiti government has given Villa a week to leave the country, and also recalled its ambassador from Manila, according to a report by Reuters.

Kuwait's foreign ministry said it had given the ambassador three days to provide the names of Filipino residents in Kuwait who had "kidnapped" domestic workers from their employers' homes, adding it had yet to receive a response from the embassy.

Kuwaiti security forces "will continue to chase down those who violated the security of the country" and put them on trial, the ministry added in a statement.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque declined to comment on the Kuwaiti decision.

Villa has also been declared "persona non-grata" in Kuwait, according to a report by the Associated Press quoting state-run Kuwait News Agency.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs called the move "deeply disturbing" and "inconsistent," and said it will seek an explanation from Kuwaiti Ambassador to Philippines Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh early Thursday.

"The action taken by the Kuwaiti Government is deeply disturbing as it is inconsistent with the assurances given by Kuwaiti Ambassador Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh during his meeting with Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano in Manila on Tuesday," it said.

"The Department will ask Ambassador Saleh to explain first thing tomorrow why the Kuwaiti Government reneged on the agreement reached with him to work together to move bilateral relations between the Philippines and Kuwait forward."

Villa on Tuesday apologized to the Kuwaiti government after a video surfaced showing the controversial rescue of Filipino domestic workers from their employers' homes in the Gulf state.

The Kuwaiti government viewed the rescue as a violation of its sovereignty.

"I join the Secretary of Foreign Affairs in extending this apology. I would like to take this opportunity to underscore that it was never the intention of the Embassy to offend the sensitivities of the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti people," Villa told reporters.

The Philippines and Kuwait are finalizing a deal for the protection of Filipino workers in the Gulf state. Talks began following a string of reported abuse and deaths of OFWs, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait in February. 

TThe incident prompted the Philippine government to ban the deployment of Filipino workers to the Gulf state and initiate a repatriation program for those who would like to come home. --With reports from Michael Delizo and Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN News; Reuters