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Renewal of ties

By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Before the Philippines and Kuwait signed a memorandum of agreement last week, providing additional protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the relationship between the two countries already seemed headed for a better and brighter future.

A delegation of Filipino officials composed of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, former Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, Labor Attaché Rustico dela Fuente and Deputy Chief to the Mission in Kuwait Mohd Noordin Lomondot met with officials from Kuwait’s Interior Ministry earlier in an attempt to normalize ties between the two countries.

The relationship between the Philippines and Kuwait plunged to an all-time low after several distressed Filipino workers were “rescued” in operations that became controversial after some Kuwaiti officials said these were accomplished without the proper authority and disregarded the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. A report revealed the “rescue” was allegedly authorized by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Sara Lou Arriola.

The meeting between officials from the Philippines and Kuwait drew positive results since four drivers from the Philippine embassy who were detained, following the controversial operations, were released. It also resulted in a guarantee from Kuwaiti officials that all remaining undocumented Filipinos, except those with pending cases, would be allowed to go home. Some 150 workers joined Philippine officials on their flight home.

Kuwait also agreed to create a special unit in its police force that would be available 24 hours a day which the Philippine embassy could coordinate with to act on complaints by troubled OFWs. Filipinos would be given a number they could call whenever they need assistance.

Apparently missing from the Philippine delegation was DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano who was earlier reported to have been involved in a shouting match with Bello over who was to blame for the Kuwait problem. The DFA, however, denied such incident occurred and claimed that no DFA official wrote the Palace asking for Cayetano’s resignation.

Cayetano clearly made up for his absence when he participated in the milestone signing of the MOA which was also attended by Bello, Roque and an official from Kuwait.

Firing Line prays for the continued safety of our OFWs in all parts of the globe.

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