Kuwait summons PH envoy over alleged OFW rescue

MANILA, Philippines – Kuwait's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Philippine ambassador, handing him two protest notes, following a video purportedly showing embassy officials rescuing Filipino domestic workers from Kuwaiti homes.

According to the state-run Kuwait News Agency, a source from the ministry said the notes were "related to recent remarks of several Filipino officials" who violated "diplomatic norms."

The ministry reportedly "expressed regret over such practices which could harm the friendship between the two countries."

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa said the Philippine embassy would submit an official reply.

"I would like to acknowledge the support and cooperation of the government of the State of Kuwait in addressing our government's concerns on the situation of our domestic workers. We thank the Kuwaiti government for the extension of the amnesty program for undocumented foreign nationals, including Filipinos. As a result, we were able to bring home and reunite around 5,000 of our workers in the Philippines," Villa said, as quoted in an ABS-CBN article.

He added that the embassy always coordinates with Kuwaiti authorities whenever it responds to assistance requests from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

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

"I would like to underscore that all our efforts to assist our nationals here in Kuwait would not be possible without the support of the Kuwaiti government. I would like to assure that all actions taken by the embassy are all intended to support our collective efforts to find solutions to the problems we have encountered concerning our workers," he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has said that the Philippine embassy in Kuwait is working overtime to take custody of at least 200 Filipinos awaiting rescue.

Ties between the countries were affected after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a deployment ban on Kuwait, citing abuses suffered by OFWs in the Gulf country.

The ban came after the body of OFW Joanna Demafelis was found in a freezer inside the house of her employers. Her employers were later sentenced to death in absentia. (READ: Philippines hails death sentence vs Demafelis killers) – Rappler.com