The “diplomatic crisis” between the Philippines and Kuwait is fast snowballing into a circus bigger than Ben Hur. At the heart of the matter is the inability to just simply apologise — essentially the same character flaw that turned the 2010 Hong Kong tourist massacre crisis into a similar diplomatic debacle. The only real pathway to resolution is for the Philippine government to apologise unconditionally.
I explored earlier the bigger root cause of crises like these in yesterday’s piece “Filipino dependence on overseas employment is what is at the root of the Kuwait diplomatic crisis”. To recap, there wouldn’t be problems like these if overseas foreign workers did not exist in such enormous numbers to begin with. The existence of OFWs is a crippling chip on the table that hinders any ability on the part of the Philippine government to negotiate with other governments on equal terms. Without a doubt, OFW-ism is just an outcome of the Philippines’ overall failure to take care of itself in a self-sufficient way.
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But, okay, so lets put that bigger picture aside for a moment and just say that OFWs are just another one of those self-created social cancers that is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
So what now?
Granted, certain social media personalities should have been a bit more circumspect about turning what is now widely-regarded as a video that is damaging on a national scale into a viral spectacle. But, ultimately, the blame rests on those bozos who (1) captured the footage to begin with and (2) shared it with others. Perhaps, too, one could appeal to the humanitarian sense in Filipino diplomatic personnel in Kuwait taking matters into their own hands. Thing is, however, (1) all those “good intentions” were sought in a manner that is against Kuwaiti law and (2) they got caught on video doing that.
In short, there are two options.
Option 1: The Philippine Government needs to apologise to the Kuwaiti Government if tens of thousands of Filipino jobs now and in the future are to be saved.
Option 2: Play hard ball on the basis of claims that the Kuwaitis routinely dragged their feet when it came to acting on issues to do with the safety and welfare of the OFW they host.
Suffice to say, Option 2 is really not an option — specially in a democracy hobbled by a half-brained national discourse composed of shrill social media chatter and “prayerful” poltiicians who pander to all that. In that sense, Filipinos are victims of their own OFWism — OFWs being liabilities to their own aspirations to be true humanists. But reality is harsh. Money is the only real thing at stake here. Money talks and money talks more loudly and way above the shrill virtue signalling of social media “influencers”. Money (specifically the need for it) requires a compromise on safety and wellbeing — essentially the very compromise OFWs have turned into an entire way of life.
The good news is that having just one option makes things a bit easy. All the Philippine Government needs to do then is to apologise. If this is becoming quite repetitive, it could be because it is a sign that we are all just overthinking this little issue a wee bit. As soon as we accept that when money is tight and you are stuck in a job you hate, well, you just need to suck it up and put up with the boss — until you get a better offer elsewhere.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.