Crown Prince ‘sorry’ over strained Kuwait-Phl ties

Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, went the extra mile to iron out the diplomatic irritants between his country and the Philippines, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Saturday.

Marcos said the Kuwaiti royal approached him on the sidelines of the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh for a brief meeting.

“He said,” Marcos told reporters, quoting the Crown Prince, “‘Can we have a quick chat for just three to five minutes?’ He assured me it wouldn’t take long, and we readily agreed” to discuss the labor-related discord between our two countries.”

The President said that following the Kuwaiti side’s initiative, he was all-in for resolving the problem.

In their discussion, the Crown Prince expressed his dissatisfaction over the actions taken by his own people, and said he disapproved of the strained relations between his country and the Philippines.

“The words that he used were, ‘Do not listen to them. These words come from small people. I do not agree with what they have been doing,’” the Crown Prince told him Marcos said.

Marcos said Crown Prince Mishal also “absolved” the Philippines of any need to apologize for trying to protect its citizens working in Kuwait who had been abused.

“There is no reason for you to apologize to us. In fact, I will apologize to you,” Marcos quoted the Crown Prince, who cited the enduring support for Kuwait by the President’s late father, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“We will fix it, and we will make it right because we love the Philippines,” the Crown Prince said, according to Marcos.

In 2018, the Philippines imposed a temporary ban on the deployment of new workers to Kuwait after the body of a Filipino domestic worker, Joanna Demafelis, was found in a freezer in her employer’s home.

The ban was lifted in 2020 after the two countries signed a bilateral labor agreement that included provisions for increased protection for Filipino workers.

However, tensions between the two countries flared up again in 2023 after the body of another Filipino domestic worker, Jullebee Ranara, was found in the Kuwaiti desert.

The Philippine government accused the Kuwaiti government of failing to protect its workers and suspended the deployment of new workers to Kuwait.

Kuwait responded by suspending the issuance of all visas to Filipinos, including tourist visas.

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