PH stands ground on ‘violations,’ will protect troubled Pinoys
The Philippines will not apologize for its alleged violations that led to the Kuwaiti government’s order suspending the issuance of new entry visas to Filipinos, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.
“The Philippine government’s position, President [Ferdinand] Marcos’ [Jr.] position is that we cannot apologize for protecting our workers. We cannot hold our own people accountable for doing their job which is to protect our overseas nationals,” DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.
In a related development, De Vega also clarified that the incident in Kuwait when an SUV driver plowed through a group of 60 Filipino cyclists — resulting in 15 getting hurt — was not a hate crime amid the visa issue between the two nations.
“It is not a hate crime against Filipinos. That’s not what it looks like. What happened was that for some time, there have been concerns in Kuwait over the lack of bike lanes and there have been incidents, accidents where aggressive drivers have injured cyclists,” he told CNN Philippines’ The Source.
On May 27, the DFA reported that several Filipino cyclists were hurt after being hit by a car along the Arabian Gulf Road. De Vega said 11 of the cyclists were brought to the hospital; seven were immediately released, while two others took some time before they were discharged.
Two female victims remain in the hospital, one due to head trauma and another due to a fracture on her vertebrae, he noted.
Earlier, the Kuwait Interior Ministry revealed some of the reasons behind the visa suspension order for the Philippines, like housing workers in shelters, searching for runaways without involving state institutions, and inappropriately dealing with Kuwaiti citizens.
De Vega said that while Kuwait wants Manila to formally admit such actions and apologize, he maintained that the Philippines cannot accede to it since its actions were only to ensure the welfare of overseas Filipino workers.
When asked what the Philippine government’s next step will be, De Vega said “among friends, we can agree to disagree and then keep trying to find the middle ground.”
According to him, the Philippines already indicated the willingness of the country’s embassy there to work with Kuwaiti officials to ensure that no violations will be repeated.
For now, the Philippines will wait until “cooler heads prevail” and there is an opportunity for both parties to discuss the matter, De Vega said.
But he noted that DFA hopes to again talk with Kuwaiti officials by July.
De Vega earlier said that more dialogues between the two nations are needed. This was after officials from Kuwait insisted during a meeting mid-May that the Philippine government has violated their law.
As for the injured cyclists De Vega said the Kuwaiti government is covering all the expenses, but Philippine authorities are also ready to provide any kind of assistance.
Meanwhile, the suspect has surrendered to police there, he said.
Authorities are looking into a possible felony case, De Vega said.
The DFA official added that the victims are also eyeing filing legal action against the suspect.