By Macon Araneta| FilAm Star Correspondent
The expulsion of the Philippine ambassador to Kuwait is both unfortunate and shameful, said Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
She said this exposes overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to greater risk and reveals the Duterte government’s haphazard and amateurish approach to foreign policy.
“Rescuing our abused OFWs is correct. What is patently wrong is to exploit the rescue of our distressed kababayan to score propaganda points even if it means trampling on the sovereignty of a nation-state and straining long-nurtured bilateral relations,” stressed Hontiveros.
The opposition Senator also reminded the Duterte government that foreign policy is not simply a social media blitz. She said it is the careful and diplomatic promotion and safeguarding of a nation’s interests while recognizing multilateral and bilateral relations with other countries.
“There is a way of rescuing our OFWs without violating the sovereignty of another country,” she said.
“I call on the Duterte government, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to take concrete steps to rebuild our strained bilateral relations with Kuwait,” said Hontiveros.
She also called on them to implement measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the thousands of Filipinos working in Kuwait, and to make sure that their harmonious relationship with the Kuwaiti people is not strained by incident.
She said the government must seriously address this issue instead of brushing this aside as a simple case of “misunderstanding.”
Lastly, she renewed her call for the development and implementation of a judicious, progressive and consistent foreign policy capable of responding to the challenges of modern international relations.
“The Duterte government’s treacherous mis-handling of the crisis in the West Philippine Sea and the Kuwait debacle demand that all stakeholders sit and talk to craft a foreign policy that is truly reflective of the Filipino people’s interests and aspirations,” she further said.
Sen. Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the decision of the Kuwaiti Government to expel Ambassador Renato Villa from Kuwait is unfortunate, especially since, according to the DFA, there had already been recent talks to move forward with the PH-Kuwait bilateral relations.
Senate Labor Committee Chair Sen. Joel Villanueva said, “Of course we know that the intention of the government was to assist our kababayans in these countries. But this serves as a lesson that good intention is not enough, especially in the international political arena. I still support our PH embassy’s decision to rescue our kababayans,” he added.
Reacting to the video showing the Kuwaiti government chasing down rescued OFWs and putting them to trial for allegedly violating Kuwait’s security, Sen. Chiz Escudero said it’s uncalled for and unwarranted after Duterte’s apology although embassy officials were only doing their job protecting Filipinos against abusive employers.
“What about their national that abused and committed a crime and/or human rights violations against our national? Was he ever held accountable for his actions by the Kuwaiti government?” asked Escudero.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said, “(The Kuwaitis) have their own rules to follow. The Philippine diplomatic group was left with no choice.”
Asked if the Kuwaiti government had the right to treat Philippine embassy officials the way De Villa was treated, Soffo replied, ”If they don’t like us, mas lalo namang ayaw natin sa kanila.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Sonny Angara commended Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano for taking prompt action to defuse a brewing diplomatic crisis with Kuwait.