PH envoy summoned over video showing extraction of maids from Kuwaiti homes

Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Apr 22 2018 12:58 AM | Updated as of Apr 22 2018 01:41 AM

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa. Handout

KUWAIT—The Ministry of Foreign Affairs here summoned Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa to hand him two diplomatic protest notes.

A spokesperson at the ministry said the notes were “related to recent remarks by several Filipino officials which [amounted to] serious offences against the State of Kuwait and [led] to the actions some embassy employees in violation of the diplomatic norms governing relations between the two countries as per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the Kuwait News Agency reported. 

The spokesperson “expressed regret over such practices which could harm the friendship between the two countries.”

Villa said the Philippine Embassy will submit an official reply to the diplomatic protest notes to shed light on a video that allegedly shows embassy officials rescuing distressed Filipino household service workers from Kuwaiti homes.

In a press briefing Saturday, Villa made some clarifications about a video that went viral on social media and carried by some news outfits that some embassy officials and personnel allegedly extracted distressed Filipino household service workers directly from Kuwaiti homes and took them using diplomatic vehicles.

“I would like to acknowledge the support and cooperation of the government of the State of Kuwait in addressing our government’s concerns on the situation of our domestic workers. We thank the Kuwaiti government for the extension of the amnesty program for undocumented foreign nationals including Filipinos. As a result, we were able to bring home and reunite around 5,000 of our workers in the Philippines," he said.

Villa denied the statement on Arabic dailies attributed to him saying that the Philippine Embassy does not need the help of Kuwaiti authorities in extending assistance to Filipinos in Kuwait.

“I would like to underscore that all our efforts to assist our nationals here in Kuwait would not be possible without the support of the Kuwaiti government. I would like to assure that all actions taken by the embassy are all intended to support our collective efforts to find solutions to the problems we have encountered concerning our workers,” he explained.

He stressed that the embassy always coordinates with the Ministry of Interior when responding to requests for assistance from its Filipino nationals.

“This is standard procedure and we will continue to do so. All the efforts undertaken in the past weeks in response to request for assistance by our nationals are undertaken to ensure that we resolve outstanding issues before the signing of the labor agreement and the visit of President Duterte,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola announced during a meeting with the Filipino community on Friday that the embassy led by Villa is coordinating with Kuwaiti authorities for the preparation of the upcoming visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to Kuwait, which will likely happen after the Holy Month of Ramadan sometime in June.

Arriola and her team arrived in Kuwait on Friday to oversee and assist the Philippine Embassy in the repatriation of undocumented overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait who received amnesty from the Kuwait government. There will be last two flights that will fly 340 undocumented Filipinos out of Kuwait as the amnesty ends on April 22.