By Roy Mabasa
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will summon today the Kuwaiti envoy in Manila to seek an explanation on his government’s order to expel Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa.
“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 in a statement issued late Wednesday night.
The DFA said it will ask Ambassador Saleh to explain why the Kuwaiti government reneged on the agreement reached with him to work together to move bilateral relations between the Philippines and Kuwait forward.
In the statement, the DFA acknowledged it has been informed that the State of Kuwait has declared Villa “unacceptable” and was given only one week to return to Manila.
“In discussions at every level with Kuwait, the Philippines has always emphasized that the well-being of Filipino nationals wherever they may be will always be of paramount importance,” the DFA said.
It added that the protection of the rights and the promotion of the welfare of Filipinos abroad will always be the guiding principle of the Philippines in its relationship with countries around the world, including Kuwait.
On Wednesday, Kuwait’s state-run news agency reported that Villa had been given one week to leave that country following the diplomatic row sparked by the rescue of distressed Filipino workers from the households of their employers.
Video clips of the rescue were uploaded and distributed to the media by DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato. Cato heads the DFA’s Office of Public Diplomacy.
In one of the video footages circulated by Cato, a supposed female OFW is seen running towards a waiting SUV while being assisted with her luggage by a man speaking in Tagalog.
Soon after, the Kuwaiti government summoned Villa three times and was served with “protest notes” over the alleged “inappropriate behavior” by certain Philippine Embassy staff who participated in the rescue mission.
Kuwaiti authorities arrested four Filipino individuals who reportedly took part in the rescue of distressed OFWs.
On Tuesday, Cayetano apologized to the government and people of Kuwait for the conduct of the rescue mission, saying it was done “in the spirit of emergency action to protect Filipinos.”