Filipino drivers in Kuwait rescue mission won't be charged anymore
The Kuwaiti government has dropped the kidnapping charges against four Filipino drivers in the controversial rescue mission of abused Filipino workers in the Gulf state, Malacanang said on Thursday.
"The drivers were released, but they won't return to the Philippines because they are living in Kuwait and they are not facing any case anymore," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview in Kuwait via Skype.
Roque also said a memorandum of agreement for the welfare of overseas Filipino workers in the Gulf state could take place on Friday.
He said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mamao would join them in Kuwait for the signing ceremony.
He acknowledged Mamao for the breakthrough on the possible normalization of the relationship between the Philippines and Kuwait.
"Give credit where it’s due, Secretary Abdullah Mamao already came here, and as he reported to the President. He’s had talks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and this Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed with us that they had previously met with Secretary Mamao. So I think all prior arrangements had been made by Secretary Mamao, ours was really more of clinching it and ceremonial meeting with ministers," Roque said.
With the developments, Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte may decide to have the partial lifting of the deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait.
"I'm still getting authority from the President to say certain matters. But I would say that I am confident that with the signing of MOA, there will be partial lifting that will take place, but not full lifting until we arrange the details, the other details," Roque said.
He also said that during their meeting with the ruling emir, a personal message was sent to the president, which he elated to Duterte.
Roque said some 500 undocumented Filipinos would also be repatriated and Kuwait promised to shoulder their airfare.
However, 62 undocumented OFWs would remain because they are facing different charges, he added.
A diplomatic spat arose between the Philippines and Kuwait when Duterte totally ban the deployment of OFWs to the Gulf state after a Filipina household helper was murdered and found inside a freezer last February.
Late last month, the Philippine Embassy staff launched covert rescue operations of abused OFWs. The video of the operations was even released to the public, irking the Kuwaiti government. This resulted in the expulsion of Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Rene Villa and the recall of Kuwait envoy to the Philippines. Celerina Monte/DMS