Malacañang on Tuesday, April 24, confirmed that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s meeting with Kuwaiti Ambassador Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh to resolve issues concerning the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Gulf state ended on a positive note.
“I confirm that the President met with the Ambassador of Kuwait to the Philippines, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, [Environment] Secretary [Roy] Cimatu, and Secretary [Silvestre] Bello of Labor [Department]. They discussed recent events that transpired in Kuwait,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. announced in a Palace press briefing.
Among the issues discussed, Roque cited, were the protest notes served by the Kuwaiti government on the Philippine Ambassador over the rescue of distressed OFWs in their country.
The Spokesperson said that both parties underscored that while the Philippines continues to exercise its obligation to protect its nationals abroad, it would do so in a manner that would respect Kuwait’s sovereignty.
“Ang naging resolution po, tanggapin po ng Kuwaiti government na talagang pangangalagaan natin ang ating mga mamamayan sa Kuwait dahil ito’y obligasyon natin bilang isang bansa. At tinatanggap din natin ang soberanya ng Kuwait,” Roque said.
The Palace official attributed the positive outcome of the discussion to President Duterte’s “personalistic, warm, and friendly” negotiating style, which he said the Kuwaiti envoy reciprocated.
“It was a frank but very cordial discussion. And I understand that after the meeting, both parties reiterated their mutual support for each other and parted even closer as friends,” Roque said.
“[The President’s] style eventually led to the result that he wanted,” he added.
On the other hand, Roque assured the public that the President remains firm in his commitment to protect Filipino migrant workers from any form of abuse.
“[The President] may have a very friendly approach… but he’s also a man of political will. I think he made it very clear that he had no other option but to protect Filipino workers in Kuwait,” Roque stated.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Spokesperson confirmed that the two parties are set to sign the memorandum of understanding (MOU) providing the terms and conditions for the protection of OFWs working in Kuwait.
“[B]oth states have invested time, resources, effort; and I think both are serious in signing this MOU,” Roque stressed.
“We can’t deny we have to provide employment for our countrymen. But I think the Kuwait side also has recognized that they also need the services of our countrymen. So it is in that… sense of mutual need for each other that we negotiated that MOU,” he added.
PH among most preferred investment destinations by Japanese firms
During the same press briefing, Malacañang welcomed news that the Philippines is among the most preferred investment destinations among Japanese companies.
Secretary Roque said the country ranks 12th in the Japan External Trade Organization’s (JETRO) latest survey on the International Operations of Japanese Firms.
Roque added that Japan was the country’s largest foreign investor in 2017 with approved foreign investments registering at P32 billion, an 18.2 percent increase from 2016.
“This reflects the confidence of the Japanese government and business in the economic policies and political stability under the leadership of [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte],” Roque said.