Solon warns vs. uploading OFW ‘rescue’ videos from Kuwait

MANILA A party-list lawmaker on Monday warned against the recording and uploading of videos showing the rescue of abused overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Kuwaiti homes, deeming it as "unfortunate and completely unnecessary."

ACTS-OFW Rep. Ancieto Bertiz III made the statement after Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa received protest notes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuwait for "inappropriate behavior" in rescuing distressed Filipino domestic workers from their employers' households as seen in a viral video.

The "rescue" video showed rapid response teams bringing distressed OFWs to waiting vehicles so that the workers could be brought to the embassy shelter for safety reasons. "

"We should discourage this as a practice because it puts the lives of the distressed OFW and even her rescuers at risk while exposing our embassy to sanctions by the host government," Bertiz said.

"The privacy of the distressed OFW should also be respected especially in instances where human trafficking and sexual violence may be involved," he added.

Bertiz expressed full support to the beleaguered Philippine ambassador, whom he said has a good track record in "looking after the welfare of our OFWs."

"I think the ambassador was not aware that the rapid response teams designated to help our distressed domestic workers were recording and uploading videos of their so-called 'rescue missions'," he said.

Bertiz advised the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to consider deferring President Rodrigo R. Duterte's planned visit to Kuwait until the issue raised by the Kuwait government can be resolved.

DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had initially disclosed the possibility of a presidential state visit before or after the month of Ramadhan.

"We view our strategic relations with Kuwait as critically important considering the number of Filipino workers remaining there and the long history of friendship between the two countries," Bertiz said.

"The DFA in partnership with Department of Labor and Employment would have to find ways to address the concerns raised by the Kuwait Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the usual diplomatic channels," he added.

Bertiz was part of the joint DFA-DOLE team, led by DFA Undersecretary Sarah Arriola and DOLE Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad, tasked to check on the progress of the Philippine government's repatriation efforts of undocumented and distressed OFWs.

"Considering that there are still 5,000 remaining OFWs who lack proper documents as well as more than a hundred thousand legal workers in Kuwait, we need to approach this new diplomatic challenge with utmost sobriety," he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency