OFW rescue video that angered Kuwait came from DFA

RESCUE OPERATIONS. A viral video from the DFA shows the rescue of distressed OFWs in Kuwait. Screenshot from DFA video

RESCUE OPERATIONS. A viral video from the DFA shows the rescue of distressed OFWs in Kuwait.

Screenshot from DFA video

MANILA, Philippines – The Kuwaiti government summoned Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa, and handed him two protest notes, after a viral video showed Philippine embassy personnel rescuing a distressed overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Kuwait. 

This video that angered Kuwait came from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

On Thursday, April 19, Acting DFA Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy Elmer Cato posted at least two videos in the official Viber group of reporters who cover the DFA. Whenever the DFA posts photos, videos, or information through this Viber group, it means reporters can use these.

The first OFW rescue video was posted at 3:01 pm, and the second at 3:02 pm on Thursday.

The videos came with a DFA update "on the ongoing rescues of our distressed kababayans in Kuwait." The update said, "As many as 26 Filipino domestic helpers who have sent out cries for help were found and rescued this way since April 7."

Watch the two videos below:

Rappler on Monday, April 23, asked Cato who took the videos and who authorized that they be posted. Cato has yet to reply to our questions as of posting time. 

Call for 'utmost sobriety' 

These images went viral, especially after pro-Duterte blogger RJ Nieto, also known as Thinking Pinoy, posted to his Facebook page a compilation of the two videos.

Nieto's video has been viewed nearly 400,000 times as of Monday evening, April 23. 

Nieto's post about the video – which he titled, "DFA In Action (As In "In Action" Talaga, Kaloka!)" – comes in the face of a diplomatic crisis between the Philippines and Kuwait. 

In a dzBB Super Radyo interview Monday, Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Arnell Ignacio said the rescue operation was a "serious crime" in Kuwait, and the video should not have been posted.

Ignacio said that because it's a crime in Kuwait, it should have been a "covert operation." Referring to Kuwait's laws, he added, "Kung iva-violate mo rin lang, 'wag mo nang i-video at i-post." (If you will violate it anyway, then don't take a video and post it.)

ACTS OFW Party-List Representative Aniceto Bertiz III said uploading the video was "unfortunate and completely unnecessary."

Bertiz said he thinks Villa "was not aware" that rapid response teams "were recording and uploading videos of their so-called 'rescue missions.'" 

"The videos that have gone viral led the Kuwaiti authorities to call the attention of our embassy and the Philippine government through diplomatic notes," said Bertiz.

He added that "we need to approach this new diplomatic challenge with utmost sobriety" since there are still 5,000 OFWs who lack proper documents and more than 100,000 legal workers in Kuwait. – 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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