Malacañang on Wednesday announced that the four Filipino drivers who were detained for aiding Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) escape from their allegedly abusive employers in Kuwait have been released after a high-level meeting between Filipino and Kuwaiti officials that took place in the Gulf state.
“The meeting of officials between the two countries likewise saw the release of four drivers,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.
The Filipino drivers were arrested and detained by Kuwaiti authorities who called the rescue a violation of their country’s sovereignty. The incident also prompted the expulsion of Philippine ambassador Renato Villa from Kuwait.
Roque said a team of Filipino officials headed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III left for Kuwait on Tuesday upon the instruction of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. He said they met with officials from the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry.
Both sides now look forward to the normalization of ties.
“Kuwait, for its part, has expressed the value of Filipinos in Kuwait,” said Roque, who is also part of the team.
Other members of the Philippine contingent include former Labor secretary Marianito Roque, Labor Attache Rustico dela Fuente and Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait Mohd Noordin Lomondot.
Roque said the meeting also resulted in the drafting of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the governments of the Philippines and Kuwait, which is expected to be signed soon.
Among the areas agreed upon was the creation of “a Special Unit within the Kuwaiti Police that the Philippine embassy can liaison with regarding complaints of Filipino workers, which will be available 24 hours”. Also, a special hotline number that Filipino workers can call for assistance will also be established and made available 24 hours a day.
Roque said Kuwait guaranteed that all remaining undocumented Filipinos, except for those with pending cases, will be allowed to go home. He said least 150 of the 600 undocumented Filipinos will be joining the Filipino officials in returning to the Philippines.
The Philippine delegation went to Kuwait a day after Roque announced that Duterte has designated Presidential Adviser on OFWs Concerns Abdullah Mamao as special envoy to Kuwait. (PNA)
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