‘That is a crime’: OWWA’s Arnell Ignacio hits OFW rescue ops in Kuwait

Don Kevin Hapal
‘That is a crime’: OWWA’s Arnell Ignacio hits OFW rescue ops in Kuwait
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Arnell Ignacio says Philippine embassy personnel should have coordinated with Kuwaiti police

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affair’s rescue of allegedly abused overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) “is a crime” in Kuwait, and a video of it shouldn’t have been taken and shared to the public.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Arnell Ignacio stressed this on Monday, April 23, in an interview with DZBB Super Radyo

A video of embassy officials rescuing Filipino domestic workers from Kuwaiti homes has gone viral on social media, prompting the Kuwaiti government to protest a violation of “diplomatic norms.”

In the interview, Ignacio admitted that the rescue violated Kuwaiti laws, and that only their police could conduct such operations. “Coordinate with the police, and they will be the ones to go,” Ignacio said in Filipino.

Ignacio also said that posting the video on social media further aggravated the situation. “It’s like you insulted and trampled on their government.” he added. 

In the same interview, Ignacio said that some of those who were part of the operations did not have immunity and might be arrested by the Kuwaiti government.

On social media, Ignacio also said that some of OWWA’s projects for OFWs in Kuwait might get affected because of the incident.


Rappler reached out to Ignacio for more details about these projects, but he has yet to respond.

Even some of President Rodrigo Duterte’s most avid supporters on social media hit the sharing of the rescue video to the public.


It was featured on GMA news program Saksi while blogger-propagandist RJ Nieto, also known as Thinking Pinoy, also posted the video on Thursday, April 19, to his Facebook page. Both credited the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs as source.

Screenshot from RJ Nieto's Facebook page.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Philippine ambassador over the incident, handing him two protest notes.

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa said the Philippine embassy would submit an official reply. He added that the embassy always coordinates with Kuwaiti authorities whenever it responds to assistance requests from OFWs.

Arabic newspapers had reportedly quoted him as saying that Kuwait’s aid was not needed, but Villa denied making that remark.

Ties between the countries have been tense after President Duterte imposed a deployment ban on Kuwait, citing abuses suffered by OFWs in the Gulf country.  Rappler.com

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.