Carvajal: A salute

“Whatever is worth doing is worth doing badly.” --G. K. Chesterton

UPLOADING the covert rescue operation in the Internet was dumb and unfortunate. But making it the primary issue is dumber still and a lot more unfortunate. At issue is not diplomatic protocol. At issue is the dignity of Filipinos that the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) represents.

The question is not: Was it wrong to do it covertly and upload it? The core issue is: Was it right to honor our OFW’s request to be rescued from their maltreating Kuwaiti masters?

The answer, if we are not to betray our countrymen, has to be an unequivocal yes. And yes, it was worth the diplomatic faux pas of doing it covertly and worth the wrong of uploading it. The welfare of OFW’s should trump diplomatic niceties.

People like that former ambassador and that Liberal Party-adjunct senator who ask the country to apologize to Kuwait for hurting their diplomatic sensitivities have it backwards. Our basic human sensitivities were hurt first and more deeply. Hence, the Kuwaitis must apologize for this first before we apologize, but I don’t think we should, for doing it covertly and uploading it.

We are against the war on drugs which we claim tramples on the right to life of some Filipinos. We are also careful and insistent that government enforces local laws on the fair treatment by employers of their employees. Yet now we allow rich and powerful countries to trample on the dignity of OFWs and ask our government to apologize to the government of their cruel masters?

I see a distortion of values here. I see betrayal of our OFW brothers and sisters. We do not have to apologize for the rescue no matter how badly it was done. (But was it really?) Our countrymen asked for it and there was no other answer but to grant their request.

If we must apologize let it be after the Kuwaiti government has apologized for the maltreatment and death of Filipino workers. This is the greater sin Kuwaitis must not only apologize but also atone for.

We should be done being the footstools of richer more powerful nations. We understand why many of our countrymen have to work abroad. But we should never allow it to be at the expense of our dignity and self-respect as a people. Those of us who are comfortable here and don’t have to work abroad for a living must at least support OFW’s, protect their rights and help rescue them when treated as sub-humans.

If there is one thing we could all agree on it is “the Filipino above all.” We can be against Duterte as much as we want, but it must be because we uphold the dignity of the Filipino above all and not for any dark partisan political reason.

I salute the Foreign Affairs staff for their timely rescue of maltreated OFW’s.


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