RELATIONS BETWEEN the Philippines and Kuwait have taken a “positive direction” following the repatriation of 61 overseas Filipino workers who missed the amnesty program, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.
“This is a very good gesture, positive step forward. As you know, in our official communications with them, we raised the concern of the 600 to 800 (who) are still in the shelters (who) somehow missed the amnesty. So this is the first batch of 61,” Mr. Cayetano told reporters after welcoming overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Saturday evening.
“Developments are positive and the discussions are heading to a positive direction,” he added.
The Kuwaiti government earlier offered an amnesty program allowing illegally staying OFWs to return home without penalties.
Mr. Cayetano said Kuwait’s approval to repatriate OFWs with legal cases despite the amnesty program’s expiration was one of the breakthroughs that would pave way for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries.
He added that the Philippine government may send a high-level delegation to Kuwait, which hopefully would lead to the MoU signing and eventually the lifting of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s deployment ban on the Persian Gulf state.
He also said the two countries are currently fixing protocols on rescuing distressed OFWs. Kuwait has advised the Philippine embassy that it may coordinate with local authorities in helping distressed OFWs through their 24/7 hotline.
The Philippines was already “repairing” the issue over the controversial rescue video by diplomatic personnel in Kuwait, Mr. Cayetano added.
“We will fix the protocol with them because they are the host country and we have to respect their laws. But just as they have to protect their nationals here in the Philippines, we will also seek the protection of our nationals,” he said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo