The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday, April 23, defended the rescue operations of the Rapid Rescue Team (RRT), saying the operations were done in coordination with Kuwaiti authorities.
Foreign Affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the operations were carried out with the Ministry of Interior and local authorities. The comment was made after Philippine Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa was urged by the Kuwaiti government to explain the rescue operations including the release of its video to the media and on the internet.
“Mahinahon naman at very respectfully na sinagot ng ating ambassador na lahat ng kaso ng rescue at pang-aabuso sa ating mga kababayan doon ay dinadaan po sa Ministry of Interior, at nakikipag-coordinate po sila sa local authorities. Pati po ‘yung mga rescue, kino-coordinate ito,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano added that the rescue operations aimed to protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) facing grave danger and can no longer await normal process.
“Kasi these are cases na may grave danger at puwedeng life-or-death ang pinag-uusapan sa OFWs. Siyempre, kung mapaabot sa inyo na duguan na o ginugulpi or, very likely, nasasaktan siya or may gagawin or continuous na ‘yung abuse, ‘pag hinintay mo ‘yung normal process, may katagalan. That’s why may concept nga ng rescue,” Cayetano said.
The foreign affairs secretary also defended the Philippine ambassador saying the rescue operations was not carried out to disrespect Kuwaiti law.
“They’re doing some investigation now on the Kuwait side, and mamaya i-ano natin sa ambassador na sana maging fair lahat at protected mga tao natin sapagkat ginawa lang nila naman mga trabaho nila,” Cayetano said.
Despite this, Cayetano is hopeful the issue between the two countries will be resolved.
“We will do our best to clarify all of these, and to assure our friendship with the Kuwait government and that our people there are safe, in the same manner that we are assuring them na ang nationals nila dito sa Pilipinas will be kept safe and will be protected,” he added.
Cayetano underscored the importance of keeping the Philippines-Kuwait relationship intact especially with the unsigned labor agreement between the two countries that aims to protect the rights of OFWs in the Gulf state.
Earlier, two videos of rescue operations of the RRT, which operates under the DFA, surfaced on the internet. The video showed OFWs escaping the homes of their employers with the help of members of the RRT.