Cayetano arrives in Kuwait to discuss ties, witness MOU signing


MANILA — Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has arrived in Kuwait to discuss the current bilateral relations between the two nations with his counterpart, and later witness the expected signing of an agreement to protect household service workers in the Gulf nation.

Upon arrival at the Kuwait International Airport on Thursday, Cayetano was joined by Kuwaiti Ambassador to Manila Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh and Philippine Consul General Noordin Lomondot.

Cayetano said he and Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah will sit down to assess the two nations’ accomplishment since the diplomatic row broke out, and discuss how much farther the two are willing to go in engagement.

A Philippine delegation, composed of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and other labor officials are also in Kuwait to discuss the spat and witness the possible signing of the memorandum of understanding Friday (May 11, 2018).

In a statement released Friday morning (3:59 a.m. Manila time), Cayetano said, “It is our hope that the momentum created by the goodwill generated by our two sides during the past three weeks would lead to the signing today of the Memorandum of Agreement between our two countries.”

Confident on 3 diplomats’ exit

Tension between the two nations escalated following Kuwait’s protests against the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait’s rescue operations of distressed Filipino workers.

With the positive developments on their efforts to mend strained relations, Cayetano said he is confident the three diplomats still holed up at the Embassy will be allowed to safely exit the Gulf state.

The three were earlier charged with kidnapping for their involvement in the assistance of distressed Filipinos from their employers’ home.

Cayetano revealed that the Philippine government is “working behind the scenes” with Kuwaiti authorities to facilitate the three DFA employees’ immediate return to Manila.

“We are confident this will happen in a few days,” he added.

Kuwait has already agreed to release the four Filipino drivers who were taken into custody for assisting the Embassy in responding to the assistance requests of distraught Filipinos.

The release of the four drivers on Tuesday was confirmed by Bello and Roque during their press conference on Wednesday.

After weeks of engagement, Kuwait has agreed to the repatriation not only of Filipinos in the shelters but also those who are still in households awaiting help.

Among others, Cayetano said Kuwait activated the 24/7 hotline, where distressed Filipinos can call for assistance; and agreed to create a special police unit that would assist the Embassy in responding to calls for help. Joyce Ann Rocamora/