Philippines protests expulsion of Ambassador Villa from Kuwait

Paterno Esmaquel II
The Philippines, in a diplomatic note, conveys its 'strong surprise and great displeasure' after Kuwait declared Ambassador Renato Villa as 'persona non grata'

KUWAIT ENVOY. Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa briefs other government officials on the repatriation efforts for overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait. File photo courtesy of DFA

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday afternoon, April 26, said it handed Kuwait a diplomatic note to convey its “great displeasure” after the Kuwaiti government declared Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa as “persona non grata.”

In a statement, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Kuwait’s ambassador earlier stated that Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa “is welcome to stay in Kuwait until the end of his tour of duty.”

Kuwait said on Wednesday, April 25, that it has expelled Villa due to “undiplomatic acts by Philippine embassy staff.”

Read the full text of the statement of the DFA, which was sent to reporters at 3:18 pm on Thursday:

The Department of Foreign Affairs has summoned Kuwaiti Ambassador Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh but was informed by the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Manila that he has been recalled to his capital for consultations.

The Department served a diplomatic note to the Embassy of Kuwait conveying its strong surprise and great displeasure over the declaration of Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa as persona non grata; the continued detention of 4 Filipinos hired by the Philippine Embassy; and the issuance of arrest warrants against 3 diplomatic personnel. 

The Department believes that these acts are inconsistent with the assurances and representations made by the Kuwaiti Ambassador on the various concerns that were brought to his attention by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter S. Cayetano during their meeting in Manila on 24 April 2018. 

In that meeting, Secretary Cayetano inquired on the status of Ambassador Villa in Kuwait and Ambassador Althwaikh stated that he is welcome to stay in Kuwait until the end of his tour of duty, and that the Government of Kuwait “likes” Ambassador Villa very much.

In the same meeting, Ambassador Althwaikh also committed the following measures that will immediately respond to the urgent requests by Filipino nationals: 

  • To strengthen the Kuwaiti Government’s 24/7 Hotline to immediately respond to urgent requests for assistance by Filipino nationals in coordination with the Philippine Embassy;

  • To jointly establish additional centers or shelters, if needed, for distressed Filipino workers;
     
  • To jointly formulate mechanisms to ensure better and efficient coordination between the Philippine Embassy and Kuwaiti authorities in responding to any emergency case involving Filipino nationals;
     
  • To ensure immediate action by Kuwaiti authorities on pending requests for assistance from distressed Filipino workers;
     
  • To facilitate repatriation of the more than 800 Filipinos currently staying in shelters of the Philippine Embassy;
     
  • To assure justice for pending and future cases filed by Filipinos who are victims of serious abuse and other offenses;
     
  • To assure proper and humane treatment of Filipinos who may be taken into custody after the April 22 amnesty deadline and to repatriate them immediately with the assistance of the Philippine Embassy.
     
  • To release Filipino nationals hired by the Philippine Embassy who were taken into custody in recent days for their involvement in the actions taken by the Embassy in responding to the calls for assistance by Filipino nationals in distress; and
     
  • To ensure that diplomatic personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs who are still in Kuwait are allowed to return to Manila without incident at the soonest possible time.

Given the current circumstances, the Department conveyed its wish to be clarified on the actions to be taken by the Government of Kuwait on the assurances given by the Ambassador to the Secretary. 

The Department also again underscored that the protection of the rights and the promotion of the welfare of Filipinos abroad would always be the guiding principle of the Philippines in its relationship with countries around the world, including Kuwait.

– Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.