MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Philippines and Kuwait on Friday signed a deal to provide better protection for Filipino migrant workers in the Gulf state following a diplomatic row that strained ties between the two nations.
Officials from both countries signed the memorandum of understanding called the "Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers between the Philippines and Kuwait."
Among the provisions of the deal are the creation of a 24/7 hotline where Filipino workers may report abuses and a special police unit to respond to such complaints.
All's well that ends well was how Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano described the positive outcome.
"Lahat talaga ng papuri sa ating Panginoon. Alam mo matagal na ipinagdadasal ng ating mga kababayan na manindigan tayo, na magkaroon tayo ng pangulo na hindi lang sinasabing bayani ang OFW kung hindi itinuturing talaga na OFW," he told ABS-CBN News.
"Sa pag-uusap namin dito sa Kuwait, siyempre iba talaga 'yung face-to-face. Nauunawaan nila na kahit anong bansa ipaglalaban ang kanilang mga mamamayan."
Cayetano also thanked Kuwaiti officials, President Rodrigo Duterte, and OFWs in their efforts to reach an agreement.
"We are also grateful for the patience and kind understanding of our counterparts... We thank them for their willingness to work with us to achieve our shared goals," he said in a separate statement.
"Lastly, we thank our more than 10 million Filipinos overseas, especially those in Kuwait—our new heroes or bagong bayani—who are the ones our government has vowed to protect and whose well-being we will continue to promote."
Manila earlier set the agreement with Kuwait as a condition for the termination of its deployment ban to the Gulf state, a move triggered by the string of deaths of Filipinos working in the Middle Eastern nation.
The two nations earlier figured in a diplomatic row over the rescue of distressed Filipino migrant workers by Philippine embassy officials in Kuwait, videos of which spread online.
The rescue, held without the knowledge of local authorities, angered the Kuwaiti government, who took the Philippines' unilateral action as a violation of its sovereignty.
The Gulf state expelled the Philippine envoy there, ordered the arrest of three Filipino diplomats, and detained four drivers working for the Philippine embassy.
The drivers were released earlier this week.
- with reports from Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN News