We're glad that Philippines-Kuwait relations are back to normal after a series of unfortunate events that nearly led to a complete collapse of what had been cordial ties so far.
To recall, the strain in our bilateral relations began with the discovery of the frozen remains of domestic helper Joanne Dimafelis one year after she was murdered by her two employers, a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife.
This incident led to outrage over the inhumane treatment of our household service workers in Kuwait numbering around 260,000.
As a response to such maltreatment, Philippine embassy officials mounted a mission to rescue some Pinay domestics. A video of the rescue mission drew the ire of the Kuwaiti government, resulting in the expulsion of our ambassador from Kuwait and the "embassy arrest" of some of our diplomats for kidnapping.
Apparently, both governments worked behind the scenes to repair the damage, and the result is the signing of a memorandum of agreement
that lays down the ideal working conditions for domestic helpers, such as
one day-off, a 12-hour sleep or rest period, protection from physical abuse, and the right to a decent meal.
We commend the Philippine government for saving our bilateral relations with Kuwait from collapse, which would have meant the loss of jobs not only of 260,000 domestics, but perhaps also of professionals, skilled and semi-skilled workers.
We likewise commend the Kuwaiti government for its own efforts to normalize our bilateral ties, and agreeing to the minimum working conditions we proposed for our domestic workers.
At this point, it appears that all's well that ends well in the case of our bilateral ties with Kuwait, and this is good news for those working in that Gulf state. Our hope is that the MOU signed recently would really protect the rights and welfare of our 260,000 domestic helpers in Kuwait in the years ahead.