Press Release
April 26, 2018

*Statement of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros

The expulsion of the Philippine ambassador to Kuwait is both unfortunate and shameful. It exposes our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to greater risk and reveals the Duterte government's haphazard and amateurish approach to foreign policy.

Rescuing our abused OFWs is correct. What is patently wrong is to exploit the rescue of our distressed kababayan to score propaganda points even if it means trampling on the sovereignty of a nation-state and straining long-nurtured bilateral relations.

May I remind the Duterte government that foreign policy is not simply a social media blitz. It is the careful and diplomatic promotion and safeguarding of a nation's interests while recognizing multilateral and bilateral relations with other countries. There is a way of rescuing our OFWs without violating the sovereignty of another country.

Gusto daw ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na igalang ng buong mundo ang soberenya ng Pilipinas, pero hindi pala ito kayang gawin ng kanyang gobyerno sa ibang bansa.

I call on the Duterte government, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to take concrete steps to rebuild our strained bilateral relations with Kuwait. I also call on them to implement measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the thousands of Filipinos working in Kuwait, and to make sure that their harmonious relationship with the Kuwaiti people is not strained by incident. The government must seriously address this issue instead of brushing this aside as a simple case of "misunderstanding."

Lastly, I reiterate my call for the development and implementation of a judicious, progressive and consistent foreign policy capable of responding to the challenges of modern international relations. The Duterte government's treacherous mishandling of the crisis in the West Philippine Sea and the Kuwait debacle demand that all stakeholders sit and talk to craft a foreign policy that is truly reflective of the Filipino people's interests and aspirations.

Hindi uubra ang bara-barang foreign policy.

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