Cayetano slams Duterte critics on botched Kuwait rescue operation
CEBU CITY– Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday took a jab at those who criticized the Duterte’s administration for nearly severing the country’s ties with Kuwait.
He told a news conference that he met with the foreign minister of Kuwait who reportedly told Cayateno that the controversial rescue operation was not a “breach of sovereignty.”
“We have a very positive response in a press conference with foreign minister of Kuwait and they said it was not a ‘breach of sovereignty’,” said Cayetano.
“Meaning talagang kailangan mong protektahan yung mga kapwa mo (It means we have to protect your countryman),” said Cayetano.
“Kaya po doon sa iba na nagcriticize na hindi na dapat ni-rescue yung mga kababayan, parang sinasabi mo na inutil ang gobyerno and hindi po inutil ang Duterte administration (Those who criticized us that we should not have rescued our distressed countrymen, it is also like saying that the government is useless and the Duterte administration is not useless,” he added.
The botched rescue operation of distressed overseas Filipino workers, led by Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa, was filmed and shared on social media.
It, however, resulted in diplomatic row between the Philippines and the oil-rich Arab country which hosts over 260,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the expulsion of Villa who was declared persona non-grata.
Cayetano said they were now planning to coordinate with officials in Kuwait to look into cases of abused OFWs.
“Out of the 800 who are in the custody of our shelter (in Kuwait), 120 are not assisted. Diplomats cannot even leave Kuwait. And we have cases of abused which are still pending and hindi gumagalaw (not moving). We have asked our Kuwait counterparts to look into that,” said Cayetano.
On Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that the ban imposed by President Duterte on Filipinos going to work in Kuwait is only temporary, and that the President could still lift the prohibition if the Gulf State agreed to sign an agreement for the better treatment of Filipino domestic helpers.
Cayetano said the President’s stand was that no agreement would be signed and the deployment ban would not be lifted if there was no mechanism in place that would ensure the protection of all OFWs.
He also assured that a majority of OFWs in Kuwait is safe despite its rocky relationship with the Philippines.
He pointed out that about 95 to 96 percent of the OFWs in Kuwait were in good situation and were treated as family by their employers.
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