‘We’re satisfied with Kuwait govt action’
KUWAIT CITY, Jan 13, (Agencies): President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has no intention to withdraw Filipino workers from Kuwait in spite of the killing of Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende. In an interview with ABS-CBN last Friday, Duterte stressed that he is satisfied with the immediate action taken by the Kuwaiti government in dealing with the case of Villavende. He said: “You know, the situation is quite different. We do not see apathy there and the police authorities of Kuwait acted swiftly. And they have arrested the couple. I saw that there were arrests made and there’s an investigation going on. And apparently, justice is being done. I’m not really keen on moving people out.”
It has been reported earlier that Villavende’s employers allegedly killed her last month after enduring maltreatment and the suspects have been detained. In a related development, inquirer. net published a report on the reaction of Villavende’s relatives who called for imposing capital punishment on the suspected killers; while the uncle of Villavende, Moises, was quoted as saying after seeing her body: “Those who killed her are worse than beasts.”
He disclosed Villavende’s skull had been cracked and there was a large wound in the back of her head. There were bruises in different parts of her body, he added. “I cannot stomach watching her body for long. When she left last year, she was looking good and healthy. Now she looks skinny,” he said. Zosimo Panisales, another uncle, added her body “showed that she was badly beaten. Those who killed her are not humans.”
The Kuwaiti embalming certificate stated that she died on Dec 28, 2019 due to “acute failure of heart and respiration as a result of shock and multiple injuries in the vascular nervous system.” Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr confirmed that the Philippine government is ready to provide legal and other types of assistance to the family of the victim in order to seek the death penalty for the killers, and that a “top-notch” criminal lawyer in Kuwait has been hired to handle the case.
Locsin revealed on Twitter after meeting the domestic worker’s family last Wednesday: “She was just five months in their employ and her torture began, relieved only by the few seconds she was given for phone calls to her family whose typhoondestroyed dwelling she wanted to rebuild. Then no more calls. For what they did to her, the death penalty is a mercy … There will be blood.” He added the government will also pursue Villavende’s recruiter. Inquirer.net also reported that the 26-year-old domestic worker traveled to Kuwait in July 2019. She obtained the job through a recruitment agency in Sultan Kudarat – a province in Mindanao, Philippines. According to Villavende’s stepmother Nelly Padernal, Villavende decided to work abroad as she planned to build a better house for her family and to redeem their threefourth- hectare farm which was mortgaged for an amount that had risen to P350,000.
Also, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) chief Hans Leo Cacdac said another reason Villavende worked abroad was to be able to save up for her younger sister’s education. He assured her family that they would receive her full Owwa benefits, including a scholarship for her sister. The Department of Foreign Affairs has provided Villavende’s family P100,000 to help pay for her funeral. Villavende’s body arrived in Manila in a white wooden casket on Wednesday and flown to General Santos City early Thursday. It was then driven to Emerald Funeral Parlor in her hometown of Norala where family members and other relatives waited.
In view of Villavende’s killing, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) in the Philippines once again suspended the deployment of household workers to Kuwait. Villavende’s death at the hands of her employers violated a 2018 labor agreement with Kuwait meant to protect domestic helpers against abuse, the DoLE said.
The Philippines first banned deployment of workers to Kuwait in February 2018 after the body of missing domestic helper Joanna Demafelis was found in a freezer in her employers’ abandoned apartment in Kuwait. It lifted the ban in May 2018 after the signing of the labor agreement with Kuwait. In May 2019, another Filipino domestic worker in Kuwait, Ma. Constancia Dayag was raped and killed; prompting the Philippines to demand for appropriate action from Kuwait.
Furthermore, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has announced that the fate of the government’s policy on deploying workers to Kuwait hangs in the balance, depending on the results of Villavende’s autopsy. “A total deployment ban for workers to Kuwait will be enforced once the autopsy proves that Villavende was gravely beaten to death,” Bello stressed. The government has imposed a partial deployment ban on workers to Kuwait following Villavende’s murder. Before making the announcement, Bello had a briefing with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) team who conducted an autopsy on Villavende’s body. The bureau has yet to reveal results of the autopsy.