Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa, right, talks to reporters beside Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano as he arrives at Manila's international airport, Philippines. Image Credit: AP

Manama: Philippines Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Caytano has been met with growing calls in his home country to resign following the sharp deterioration in diplomatic relations with Kuwait.

Department of Foreign Affairs officials accuse him of “gross incompetence and blunder that resulted in the expulsion of Ambassador Renato Villa and strained relations with Kuwait”.

The DFA officials, who asked not to be named, confirmed the authenticity of the letter that circulated to Philippine diplomatic missions abroad, Philippine daily The Star reported on Thursday.

Staff from the Philippine embassy in Kuwait were instructed to carry out clandestine operations to help house workers flee the homes of their employers.

In the operations, they used diplomatic vehicles to transport the workers to the airport.

Videos of the operations were posted online by Philippine officials.

Infuriated, Kuwait said that the operations were a breach of its laws and sovereignty and a violation of diplomatic norms.

Kuwaiti ffficials arrested members of the Philippines diplomatic staff and seized two vehicles.

The Philippines later apologised in an attempt to do damage control but an infuriated Kuwait expelled Ambassador Villa and declared him persona non grata.

Villa arrived Wednesday night in the Phillipines.

Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that a temporary ban on workers going to Kuwait issued in February be made permanent.

The temporary ban came after the body of a Filipina maid who was believed to be killed by her employers was found in a freezer.

Duterte went on to make several threats and accusations towards Kuwait for its alleged mistreatment of Filipino workers, without providing evidence.

Before relations plunged, Kuwait and the Philippines had been negotiating a labour deal that could have resulted in the lifting of the ban on Filipinos leaving to work in Kuwait.

Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 per cent of them domestic workers, according to the Philippine foreign ministry.

Duterte said workers returning from Kuwait could find employment as English teachers in China, citing improved ties with Beijing.

The Philippines has sent millions of its people to work abroad, seeking salaries they cannot get in their relatively impoverished nation. The money they send back home accounts for about 10 per cent of the Philippine economy.