Charges d’ Affaires Jose Cabrera, to hold consultations with relevant authorities in Kuwait to help build strong relations and foster harmony and friendship between the two countries and its people.

By Ricky Laxa
Staff Writer

Attending to the needs and providing assistance to more than 275,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) living and working in Kuwait, makes the Philippine diplomatic posting in this country one of the most challenging missions for Philippine envoys to the Middle East. When a new ambassador or chargé d’affaires (CDA) is assigned to Kuwait, expectations from the Filipino community here are high, and rising to this trust vested in them is often the first challenge that envoys posted here face. But this is not likely to be an issue for the new Chargé d’affaires who took charge of the Philippines Embassy in Kuwait recently. A veteran diplomat, the Honorable Jose Cabrera has served in some of the most challenging places in the Middle East and in Africa, before arriving in Kuwait to take up his new posting.

CDA Cabrera currently holds the rank of Chief of Mission II and has been serving as Chargé d’ Affaires, ad interim, at the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait since his arrival on 17 July 2022. Over the years, he has served in various positions at the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as well as in  Philippines diplomatic missions abroad. Some of the posts he held at DFA include in the  Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) as Senior Special Assistant; Office of Middle East & African Affairs (OMEAA) as Executive Director; Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) as Special Assistant; Office of European Affairs (OEA) as Director; and Office of Fiscal Management as Principal Assistant.

His overseas assignments include serving at the Philippine embassy in Egypt as Minister, in Nigeria as Chargé d’Affaires at the embassy; in Cambodia as First Secretary and Consul General and then as Minister, in the United Arab Emirates as Second Secretary and Consul, and in Pakistan as Third Secretary  and Vice Consul.

When asked about which of his postings was the most challenging, CDA Cabrera explained that each posting is distinct and different, and each country diverges from another but the needs of the nationals stay the same. It may vary in aspects of living conditions, issues to resolve, or host government issues, but in general everything is in balance. With experience gained from years of serving in the region, CDA Cabrera says he is familiar with many of the concerns and issues of the community in Kuwait. “Though the issues may be similar, and most can be overcome by streamlining consular services ,delivering timely assistance to nationals, or engaging with the community, we consider each case separately and all of them are equally important to the embassy, irrespective of the OFW’s employment or financial position.

Elaborating on improving consular services provided to OFWs, CDA Cabrera said that one of the major changes will be the transfer of the Embassy to a larger and more convenient location.“We have checked several places in Kuwait and are currently on the look out for a new location. The idea is to have a bigger venue so that OFWs can have their documents processed more easily and quickly. The building should also be conveniently located in a place that is easily accessible to OFWs, as most of them need to travel by public transport,” said CDA Cabrera.

Regarding changes within the embassy, CDA Cabrera revealed that they had looked into the ‘One Country Team’ approach, a management directive meant to bring together all attached agencies of the Philippine government to work closely together with good coordination under one leadership. “The efforts have been geared towards smooth and close coordination between the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Social Security System, Pag Ibig Fund and more, with all of these efforts aimed solely to server OFWs better, and in a more efficient manner,” said CDA Cabrera.

Prior to his deployment in Kuwait, CDA Cabrera was well-acquainted with the crises in the past between the Philippines and Kuwait, which he calls unusual and unexpected. “It affected the relations of the two countries temporarily, but it was  resolved quickly as both countries are keen to foster strong relations with each other,” said CDA Cabrera. He added that the embassy has a new mandate to engage with the Kuwait government more closely, so as to further strengthen bilateral relations.

He noted that more consultations will be held in the coming months with the focus being on ways to achieve meaningful and fruitful relations in all facets that are relevant to all Filipinos working in Kuwait, as well as to those in the Philippines.

“Kuwait is a partner of the Embassy in many aspects, not just in rendering services but also in solving relevant issues that affect both countries. The Philippine Embassy will provide full cooperation and more engagement to help build stronger bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as to foster harmony and friendship between Filipino and Kuwaiti people,” said the Philippine envoy.

In his message to the Filipino community in Kuwait, CDA Cabrera stated: “Due to the large number of Filipino workers in Kuwait, it is inevitable that diversity and conflicts will exist. Despite these conflicts it is heartening to note that Filipinos in Kuwait are united as one people, and this binding factor is our country’s heritage. This diversity and unity  is concrete proof that Filipinos may have different aspirations, dreams and lifestyles; they may articulate different goals in sports, culture and creative endeavors, or they may differ in the region where they hail from, but they all remain united as one people and come together in groups to enrich their experience. Diversity is good, as long as it is within bounds and does not lead to adversity.

“As a community we have to stay strong; all of us aspire to achieve what we dream and this can be realized only while working overseas. We have to do whatever it takes within the bounds of law, examining all possibilities to earn and save for ourselves and our families back home. COVID-19 taught us the lesson that nothing is permanent, with many people losing their jobs and being placed in difficult situations. It also taught us to be prudent with our finances. You all have the chance to improve your lives here do not risk your opportunities or waste your chances. Rest assured, the Philippine Embassy will be here to provide you all assistance to meet your needs in aspects of your documentations, passports, certifications, notarial. In this regard, we are improving our services to make these easier for all of you. And anyone who encounters problems related to labor, legal matters and other related issues, can rest assured that the Embassy will be here to assist you and find solutions to your problems,” said CDA Cabrera in conclusion.

CDA Jose Cabrera was born and raised in Zamboanga City, Philippines. He took his early studies at the Ateneo De Zamboanga and also graduated from the same institution in 1988 with a degree in B.S. Commerce-Major in Accounting. His work has involved policy and management assignments, diplomatic engagements and consular practice. His responsibilities in his assignments included policy research, analysis, and formulation; the conduct of diplomacy, including engagements and negotiations on political, security, and economic concerns, particularly during overseas assignments; various roles in inbound and outbound delegations; assistance to Filipino nationals overseas; and, in the management and administration of consular services and chancery affairs at various Philippine missions overseas.

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