Robredo: Mending ties with Kuwait starts with 'accountability'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2018 06:50 PM

MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday said mending the Philippines' diplomatic ties with Kuwait starts with "a willingness to accept accountability and a conviction to do what is right."

In a statement, Robredo said the Philippines should "prevent further harm from being inflicted on our OFWs" in the Gulf State.

"These must start with an honest and candid acknowledgment of the crisis, a willingness to accept accountability, and a conviction to do what is right," the statement read.

Robredo called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to utilize its career diplomats to restore the two nations' possible deal for the protection of OFWs in Kuwait.

"Our DFA is privileged to have a team of professional, competent, and committed career diplomats who undoubtedly have skills, insight, and experience to help navigate this current diplomatic dilemma successfully," she said.

"The administration would do well to make full use of this invaluable resource. Together with doing what needs to be done to repair relations with Kuwait at the soonest possible time, we are hopeful that the window of opportunity to salvage the planned Memorandum of Understanding with Kuwait, which promises to provide long-term protection of our workers there, has not yet closed."

Robredo emphasized that protecting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait is of utmost importance.

"Protecting the welfare of our OFWs in Kuwait is our paramount concern. This is why we supported the deployment ban announced by the administration last February as well as the pursuance of the Memorandum of Understanding with Kuwait to protect our workers," she said.

"There is no option except to find a solution that will protect both the lives and the livelihoods of our OFWs. Our people deserve no less."

The Philippines had set the MOU with Kuwait as a condition to end its deployment ban to the Gulf state.

However, a video showing the rescue of distressed Filipino domestic workers from their employers' homes in the Gulf state surfaced and went viral online, setting off a diplomatic row. 

Kuwait viewed the Philippine embassy’s rescue mission as a violation of its laws and sovereignty, prompting the expulsion of Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and the recall of its envoy to the Philippines.

The deaths of Filipinas at the Gulf state prompted the Philippine government to ban the deployment of Filipino workers there and initiate a repatriation program for those who would like to come home.

Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them domestic workers, according to the foreign ministry.