MANILA (UCAN): Church leaders in the Philippines announced on April 25 that they would be sending Father Restituto Ogsimer, of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo (Scalabrinians), to help offer pastoral care to migrant Filipino workers.
This happened on the same day that the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry giving Philippine ambassador, Renato Villa, a week to leave the country on April 25 after a video came out on social media of embassy staff helping Filipino maids flee the homes of their employers. Kuwait also recalled its ambassador to Manila.
“He will assist, be of service, and help our Filipino priests there in Kuwait for our (migrant workers),” Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said.
The bishop said Father Ogsimer will spend the month of May in Kuwait to help Filipino priests there, especially those working in shelter homes and to hear confessions and do counseling.
He said there are “very good working relationships ... communication and constant collaboration” between Church and Philippine government offices in Kuwait.
Bishop Santos said Father Ogsimer will look into the real conditions of workers there “and to let them feel that the Philippine Church is concerned about their welfare.”
Video clips of the rescue were uploaded and distributed to the media by the Philippine Foreign Affairs office in Manila.
The Kuwaiti government protested the “inappropriate behaviour” of Philippine embassy staff who participated in the “rescue mission.”
On the same day, April 26, Migrante-Philippines demanded that the Philippine government apologise to Filipino workers in Kuwait for plunging them into “deeper trouble.”
Arman Hernando, the groups chairperson said, “The government should reveal who were the masterminds and partcipants in this stupidity and make them fully accountable.”
He said that if the Philippine government is sincere in rescuing distressed workers “they should have put such a mechanism in their bilateral agreement with Kuwait.”
Hernando said the government is placing all blame on abusive Kuwaiti employers while highlighting the rescue mission as an act of government heroism “when in fact it is the state’s labour export programme that drove many Filipinos to slavery.”
Bishop Santos expressed hope that the issues between the Philippines and Kuwait will finally be resolved.
An estimated 250,000 Filipino workers, mostly domestic helpers, live in Kuwait.