By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has appointed Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipinos Workers’ (OFW) Affairs Abdullah D. Mama-o as the Philippines’ special envoy to Kuwait, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said on Tuesday.
“Secretary Mama-o (has) just returned from Kuwait. He came bearing good news for the President. The good news though, we will withhold releasing until we’ve had actual realization, Mr. Roque said in his press briefing.
The spokesman added: “But the President then said that Secretary Mama-o will be appointed as Special Envoy to Kuwait and he was tasked to return to Kuwait immediately to make sure that all Filipinos who should be sent back home, can return home. I do now know when Secretary Mama-o can actually fly back to Kuwait, but the marching order of the President was as soon as possible.”
Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported last week, May 1, that Mr. Mama-o, in his capacity as Presidential Adviser on OFWs, had met with Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah on that day to discuss the recent labor issues between the two countries.
The two states, according to KUNA, expressed their “willingness to promote and develop their friendly relations and to overcome the ongoing crisis for the common interest of both.”
It will be recalled that the Kuwaiti government had expelled Philippine Ambassador Renato O. Villa last month, citing his embassy’s “undiplomatic acts” in the Persian Gulf state when it rescued some distressed Filipino workers there.
Mr. Duterte appointed Mr. Mama-o in 2016 as his adviser on OFWs, with the rank of Secretary.
According to his Facebook page profile, Mr. Mama-o is a graduate of San Beda College of Law, where Mr. Duterte also earned his law degree.
Chan Robles Virtual Law Library shows that Mr. Mama-o was admitted to the Philippine Bar on June 20, 1973.
The Presidential Communications Operations Office could not yet provide Mr. Mama-o’s resume as of this reporting. The Kuwaiti Embassy in Manila was also sought for comment.
Also on Tuesday, Labor Secretary Silvestro H. Bello III said there will be a partial lifting of the deployment ban to Kuwait if negotiations on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Philippines and the Persian Gulf state are successful.
Mr. Bello said the MoU being pushed between the two states is the reason why the President appointed Mr. Mama-o as special envoy to Kuwait.
“If Secretary Mama-o succeeds in convincing them (Kuwait) to sign the MoU, this may pave the way for me to recommend to the President the partial lifting of the ban,” Mr. Bello told reporters on Tuesday.
He emphasized that only “skilled workers” will be allowed for deployment under the partial lifting. — with Gillian M. Cortez