By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA – Kuwait’s suspension of visa issuance and entry ban on Filipinos will stay as the Philippine government tries to hash out a “long-term solution” to issues between the two nations involving overseas Filipinos working there.
“They insist we are violating their law. So status quo pa rin (it’s still status quo). We will need more talks in (the) future,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said Thursday.
The statement came after the bilateral talks between Filipino and Kuwaiti officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Kuwait from May 16 to 17.
De Vega underscored the need to implement the existing Philippine-Kuwait labor agreement.
“This kind of long-term solution will not be achieved in one round of discussions. The alternative would be for us to immediately agree to everything they insist on, or for them to agree to everything we insist on,” he said.
“That is not realistic in diplomatic negotiations, even with a friend and partner like Kuwait.”
Kuwait imposed an entry ban and suspended the visa issuance to all Filipinos coming to the Gulf state in May, 10 months after the Philippine government halted the deployment of first-time household service workers there.
Kuwait did not formally disclose the reason behind its decision but the local media reported that it stemmed from the country’s alleged non-compliance with the 2018 labor agreement concerning the operation of a temporary shelter for distressed Filipinos inside the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait.
In a separate statement, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said the delegation had explained before Kuwaiti officials “that all actions taken by the Philippine embassy and the Philippine government are solely to ensure the safety and welfare of our own nationals.”
“Providing protection to a country’s citizens abroad is a well-established duty of consular offices under international law and conventions,” she said.
“We thank the Kuwait government for its hospitality throughout the delegation’s two-day visit. The Philippines remains open to constructive dialogue on how to address current concerns.”
Daza reiterated that Manila fully respects Kuwaiti laws and that the delegation personally expressed its “profound appreciation” for Kuwait’s hospitality to more than 200,000 Filipino workers.
Representing the Philippines during the talks were senior officials of the DFA and the Department of Migrant Workers, as well as its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. (PNA)