PHL apologizes to Kuwait over embassy-led ‘rescue’ ops

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday apologized to the Kuwaiti government over the issue of embassy-led assistance operations in the Gulf state, where distressed Filipinas in grave situations were “rescued.”

“I apologize to my counterpart and we apologize to the Kuwait government, the Kuwaiti people and the leaders of Kuwait if they were offended by some actions taken by the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait,” he said in an interview in Taguig City.

Cayetano said the DFA takes “responsibility” for what happened after tension over the issue escalated when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs served two diplomatic protests at the embassy.

Cayetano reiterated that the assistance to nationals operations undertaken by the embassy were on the context of “life or death” or “threat to nationals” situations where action has to be taken right away.

“The DFA takes responsibility, I myself have not only assured the President that we’re doing what we can for the overseas Filipino workers but have apologized na nangyari but like the Kuwaitis, the President understands na life or death,” he said.

Cayetano explained that since they have a “one country, one team” in every post abroad, it was the ambassador who initially answered the Kuwaiti government when summoned over the issue.

“Having said that, we have our Undersecretary and Assistant Secretary, as well as Executive Director to assist,” he added.

Before the press briefing, Cayetano said he met with Kuwaiti Ambassador to Manila Saleh Ahmad Althwaik to update each other on the standing issue. Cayetano said they had a cordial and “warm” discussion.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, together with Cabinet members, earlier met Althwaik in Davao.

Cayetano said the Kuwaiti side committed the protection and welfare of Filipinos while the Philippines then assured Kuwait that it will follow the Gulf state’s laws.

“Of course we will respect their sovereignty and uphold the dignity of their state by acting within the bounds of law and international law,” he said.

When asked about reports that Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa is being recalled, Cayetano said there is no such request from their counterparts.

“No, there was no explicit request for him to be recalled, there is no threat to have him expelled, they just want all of these clarified,” he said.

On Saturday, Villa clarified that all efforts to assist overseas Filipino workers in the past weeks were not meant to offend the State of Kuwait. PNA