Kuwait orders Philippine ambassador to leave

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Declaring him persona non grata, the Kuwaiti government ordered Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa to leave within a week, state-run Kuwait News Agency reported Wednesday, April 25.

The Kuwaiti government cited the "undiplomatic acts by Philippine embassy staff" after they rescued abused overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait.

Kuwait also recalled its ambassador to the Philippines, Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh, "for consultation."

"The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that it had notified the Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa that he is persona non grata in the country, asking him to return home in a week," said the Kuwait News Agency.

"The ministry, which also declared recalling the State of Kuwait Ambassador to the Philippines for consultation, said its action against the top Filipino envoy was in retaliation for undiplomatic acts by Philippine embassy staff, encouraging Filipino domestic workers to flee employers' households," the state-run outlet said. 

In a statement past midnight on Thursday, April 26, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Kuwait's action is "deeply disturbing."

"The action taken by the Kuwaiti Government is deeply disturbing as it is inconsistent with the assurances given by Kuwaiti Ambassador Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh during his meeting with Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano in Manila on Tuesday," the DFA said. 

"The Department will ask Ambassador Saleh to explain first thing tomorrow why the Kuwaiti Government reneged on the agreement reached with him to work together to move bilateral relations between the Philippines and Kuwait forward," added the DFA.

The Kuwaiti government issued the expulsion order after it protested the Philippine embassy's rescue of abused OFWs in Kuwait.

The Kuwait rescue operations went viral through a video released by the DFA. 

The Philippines on Tuesday, April 24, apologized to Kuwait for the rescues done "in the spirit of emergency action to protect Filipinos." – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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