PH handles cases of detained Filipinos linked to ATN ops

MANILA The Philippine government is already handling the cases of Filipinos arrested for involvement in embassy-led assistance to nationals (ATN) operations in Kuwait, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Tuesday.

In a press briefing, Cayetano said this was discussed with Kuwaiti Ambassador to Manila Saleh Ahmad Althwaik during their meetings.

"We assured them that they were simply hired to drive the vans and that the actions taken, we will take responsibility," he said.

While the country is taking actions both in Kuwait and in the Philippines, Cayetano said he assured the Kuwaiti ambassador that the involved Filipinos did not violate any Kuwaiti law.

"There are some facts that have to be clarified but I brought up that concern because we don't want, actually whether Kuwati or Filipino, we don't want anyone to get in trouble for helping and doing what we asked them to do. So whether interpreter or driver, they were not part of the planning but they were necessary. We don't have enough vehicles, so we needed to rent vans," he pointed out.

When asked about the envoy's response, Cayetano said he cannot reveal details yet but quoted Ambassador Saleh as saying he "will be on it."

"I cannot tell you the details but basically ang sinasabi niya, aasikasuhin and if there's no violation to Kuwaiti law then wala naman nang dapat na problema. So tayo naman yung assurance, kasi yung unang lumabas na balita is that part sila ng conspiracy to kidnap, wala namang kidnapping, it's really assistance (I cannot tell you the details but basically what was said is they will facilitate it and if there's no violation of Kuwaiti law, then there's no problem. So on our part, we gave assurance, because news reported they were part of a conspiracy to kidnap. There was no kidnapping. It's really assistance)," he said.

Following the news about rescues, two Filipinos were arrested after Kuwaiti authorities claimed they were convincing household service workers to escape from employers' homes.

Cayetano said all legal assistance will be extended to the detained Filipinos.

He added that the DFA will send a formal apology Tuesday to his counterparts, apart from the public apology he conveyed before the press.

"I'm doing it now through this press briefing and then we are sending another so that Ambassador Renato Villa can also bring it to my counterparts," Cayetano said. "Again, we are apologizing for certain incidents that the Kuwaiti view as violation of their sovereignty but we have explained to them that these acts we felt were necessary to saving and protecting Filipino lives."

Cayetano reiterated to all overseas Filipino workers that the government's line is still open to extend assistance.

"Sa mga OFWs na nakikinig, don't hesitate to call (To all OFWs listening, don't hesitate to call)," he said.

Source: Philippine News Agency