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DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« on: May 04, 2018, 11:29:58 AM »

DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco 

BY FRANCISCO TATAD   
MAY 2, 2018

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I HOPE and firmly believe the Philippine diplomatic crisis with the State of Kuwait could be solved very soon, and that our Filipino domestic workers in that country and their dependents at home would be spared so much unnecessary anxiety and pain. The solution to the crisis need not be hard to find, and many are eager to see both governments work together and raise Philippine-Kuwaiti relations to a new level. But we cannot fudge the facts.

The Philippines committed an unfortunate breach when on April 7, it undertook “rapid rescue missions” of allegedly distressed Filipino domestic workers in Kuwaiti private homes, without the participation or consent of the appropriate Kuwaiti authorities. Seven teams were said to have participated.

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2018, 11:31:00 AM »
 
This violated Kuwait’s sovereignty and the norms prescribed by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The government complicated its error when on April 19, 2018 Acting DFA Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy Elmer Cato reportedly posted videos of the unauthorized rescue activities on Facebook, as though they were genuine diplomatic achievements.

What they could have done

Assuming there were complaints of employers’ abuses against our Filipino domestic workers, the Philippine embassy in Kuwait could have forwarded these complaints to the appropriate Kuwaiti authorities, and asked them to act. Should they fail to act, then the government would have found sufficient reason to raise the matter to the highest level. But under no circumstance did the Philippine government have the authority or power to extricate allegedly distressed Filipino domestic workers on its own. We are not even a middling military, economic or political power.

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2018, 11:32:16 AM »

According to Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, 68 OFWs had been “rescued” through this operation, while some 132 more were still awaiting the “rescuers.” Meanwhile, the videos had gone viral, and from April 19 to April 23, they were reportedly viewed at least 400,000 times. These were genuinely applauded by some; one highly supportive columnist said it was that kind of action, whose time had come.

But a justly offended host government reacted by expelling Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa as persona non grata, ordering the arrest of DFA-Office of Migrant Workers Affairs (OMWA) Executive Director Raul Dado and two other foreign affairs officers involved in the operation, and jailing four drivers without any diplomatic status.

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2018, 11:34:32 AM »

Cayetano apologized, but –

This happened after Cayetano had apologized, in President Rodrigo Duterte’s presence, to Kuwaiti Ambassador Musaed Saleh Althwaikh during a well-publicized meeting in Davao. The ambassador was himself recalled to Kuwait after his Davao meeting and Villa’s expulsion. What does this mean? This means the Kuwait foreign ministry decided not to accept Cayetano’s apology and instead play hardball.

DU30 must have been the first person to appreciate Kuwait’s strong reaction because of his own experience. He himself had threatened and continues to threaten foreigners who “interfere in his country’s domestic affairs” by talking about his extrajudicial drug killings. How then could Kuwait allow Philippine rescue teams to extract allegedly distressed Filipino domestics from Kuwaiti private homes without any adverse reaction from the government?

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2018, 11:36:16 AM »

Who ordered the rescue?

But did DU30 order the unlawful operation? If not DU30 himself, who did?

Although this was primarily a labor issue, it appears Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd was the last person to know about the rescue operations. Did the orders come directly from Cayetano, or did they come from DFA Undersecretary for OMWA Sarah Lou Arriola, a non-career official who may or may not have heard at all of the Vienna Convention?

The fiasco has understandably triggered a lot of blame-passing among DU30’s own people. Yesterday, one morning broadsheet reported that Cayetano and Bello had a shouting match in DU30’s presence, before the President left for the last Asean summit in Singapore. The report did not say who outshouted whom, but the entire government is obviously hurting badly from this incident.

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2018, 11:37:28 AM »

Meek as a sheep

From the intensely aggressive posture DU30 showed after the police found the body of the murdered OFW, Joanna Demafelis, stuck inside a freezer in an abandoned warehouse, the tough-talking former Davao mayor has morphed into a sheep, as it were, as far as Kuwait is concerned. Where he spewed a lot of venom earlier, he has now begun to sound even kind when talking of Kuwait, as though he were now talking of Beijing.

I believe the Philippines has been sufficiently humiliated, and Kuwait can afford to be generous now to save the situation. It may want to take a conciliatory move to put this incident behind the two governments. But this is a great learning opportunity for DU30 and his people. No one among them will have the courage to tell DU30 this, but the Kuwaiti fiasco happened because all the officers involved wanted to show the President they would follow him to the ends of the earth, and if he said “jump,” they would gladly jump, without asking him from what floor of the building.

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2018, 11:38:38 AM »

Kuwait to blame?

In most of his public statements after the Demafelis body was found, DU30 sounded as though he believed the State of Kuwait, rather than the poor maid’s murderers, was itself responsible for the murder, and that all Kuwaiti employers were inclined to commit the same crime against Filipino domestic workers. He seemed to have forgotten that the maltreatment of household help is not the invention of any particular class of foreign employers; it exists in our own neighborhoods, sometimes even in our own households, except that the maltreated domestic does not have any recourse to any labor attaché, consul or ambassador.

This was one of the reasons why as a senator, I filed the first proposal of a law that would protect domestic workers in the country, not necessarily abroad, except that I was termed out before the proposal could move. To his credit, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada pursued this great cause, and this is now the Kasambahay Law which protects all domestic workers.

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2018, 11:57:14 AM »

To the ends of the earth

Obviously because of the way DU30 spoke against Kuwait’s alleged maltreatment of Filipino domestics, which had elicited an official comment from the Kuwaiti government, a bright young lawyer like Dado, who once worked for me with diligence and distinction in the Senate, was driven to lead the rescue mission, unmindful of what he himself knew about the Vienna Convention and the inviolable rights of a sovereign state. He wanted to show he had been listening to the President and was willing to follow him to the ends of the earth.

This too is what happened to the policemen in Operation Tokhang, who were led to kill mere drug suspects by the thousands, without due process or documentation, after they heard the President say kill, kill, kill!

This too is what apparently happened to the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation official, who was compelled to issue a deportation order to the 71-year-old Australian nun, Patricia Fox, after DU30 said he had heard her in a political rally and that he himself had ordered her arrest.

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2018, 11:57:45 AM »

And this, of course, is what happened to the justices of the Supreme Court who have reportedly decided to vote for the ouster of their own Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in an absurd quo warranto proceeding, after DU30 declared that Sereno is his enemy and he wants her out of the court.

Under the Constitution, to which every justice owes his or her office, no impeachable official like Sereno may be removed except by death, permanent disability, resignation, or impeachment for, and conviction of culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes or betrayal of public trust, with the concurrence of no less than two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.

But DU30 has barked out his order, and the justices would not risk provoking the anger of this particular god. Better kill the Constitution and the highest court than defy his wishes.

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Re: DU30 can learn a lot from the Kuwait fiasco
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2018, 11:58:29 AM »

Hopefully, a timely solution to the Kuwait crisis would help DU30 recover his senses and rethink his understanding of the limited authority and power of a president. A great spiritual writer says authority “does not consist in the one above yelling at the one below, and he in turn to the other further down.” This is precisely how DU30 has exercised his authority and power, and this is what has led us to our fiasco in Kuwait, and threatens to lead us to a much bigger fiasco if and when our noble justices finally decide to follow DU30 at the cost of the Constitution, justice, and the truth.

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