PH diplomats holed up in embassy in Kuwait may soon be 'released' - Palace

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2018 10:02 PM | Updated as of May 11 2018 10:08 AM

MANILA - Kuwait has agreed to work on the “release” of three Filipino diplomats earlier ordered arrested for participating in controversial rescue of distressed Filipino workers which the Gulf state viewed as a violation of its sovereignty.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who is currently in Kuwait, said Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Al-Khaled Sulaiman Al-Jarallah “assured Philippine officials that the release of the three Filipino diplomats are now being worked out with the Interior Ministry.”

“The diplomats are expected to be released in two to three days,” Roque said in a statement.

Kuwait had ordered the arrest of the three Filipino diplomats for participating in the rescue operations. They were never arrested, however, as they chose to stay in the Philippine embassy. 

Kuwait earlier agreed to release four Filipino drivers whose services were availed by the Philippine embassy for the rescue missions.

President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a deployment ban in February following reported deaths of Filipino workers in Kuwait, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer in the same month, a year after she was reported missing.

The Philippines had set the signing of an agreement for the protection of Filipino workers in Kuwait as a condition for the lifting of the deployment ban.

Negotiations for the agreement, however, hit a snag when the two countries figured in the diplomatic row.

The Philippines and Kuwait, nonetheless, tried to work on normalizing their ties. Philippine officials are now in Kuwait and are expected to seal the agreement with the Middle Eastern country on Friday.

Roque said Kuwaiti Minister of State for Economic Development Hind Sabeeh Barrak Al-Sabeeh “discussed the formulation and possible amendment of a model employment contract for all domestic helpers from 91 countries, who are currently working in Kuwait.”

“Under the model contract, workers would enjoy the following: one day off, a 12-hour sleep or rest period, protection from physical abuse, and the right to a decent meal,” he said.