Plan to probe labor abuse in Kuwait as remains of Filipina sent to Philippines

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Call to review sending workers to Kuwait

MANILA, Philippines, Jan 28, (Agencies): The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the country. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the 35-year-old was reportedly killed by her employer’s son then dumped with burn marks, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said.

Filipino officials were trying to confirm news reports that she was raped and was pregnant when she was killed by the 17-year-old suspect, who has been taken into custody by Kuwaiti police, she said. The Philippine government would do everything to ensure justice for the victim, she said. “It’s a very gruesome, senseless crime and so the perpetrator must be punished,” Ople said in an online news conference. Her killing is the latest tragedy to befall an overseas worker from the Philippines, where about a tenth of its more than 110 million have left mainly due to unemployment and poverty and now work or live in more than 200 countries to provide for families back home. The huge income they send home has helped keep Manila’s economy afloat.

Ople said she would send a team of officials to Kuwait to find out what sparked a rise in cases of abuse of Filipino workers in recent years in the tiny emirate and what preventive steps could be taken. Sexual abuse and rape, human trafficking, labor contract violations and illegal terminations were among the common complaints of Filipinos, she said.

About 268,000 Filipinos currently work in Kuwait, including many housemaids. More than 400 Filipinos sought shelter in recent weeks in an emergency center run by the Philippine Embassy due to labor problems, and nearly half have flown back to Manila, Migrant Workers Undersecretary Hans Cacdac said.

Kuwait’s Ambassador to Manila, Musaed Saleh Althwaikh, expressed his condolences and assured Ople that Ranara’s “tragic passing” was an isolated case. “Kuwaiti society is shocked and saddened to hear about the demise of Mrs. Ranara,” the ambassador said in the letter, copies of which were provided to journalists. “Our justice system will not lose sight in ensuring justice for Mrs. Ranara.”

Meanwhile, Filipino senators are calling for stopping sending their country’s workers to Kuwait in the wake of the echoes of the rape and murder of a Filipino maid, reports Al-Rai daily. The Upper Chamber voices in Manila called for stopping the sending of Filipino migrant workers to Kuwait, similar to the decision taken by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018. At the forefront of those votes was the Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who said during a special session that this murder “should prompt the Department of Migrant Labor and relevant government agencies to review existing policies regarding the protection of Filipinos working abroad.”

He added, “Because of previous killings of Filipinos in Kuwait, the government of the Philippines imposed a ban on several occasions on sending our workers to Kuwait. In my opinion, there is now a need to reimpose such a ban because there were other workers who were killed before this victim, and we still do not even know the reasons for their killing.”

Noting that Kuwait is not a signatory to Charter No. 189 of the International Labor Organization, which is the charter It recognizes the rights of domestic workers. Senate voices continued to demand the suspension of sending Filipino workers to Kuwait, including Senator Cynthia Villar, who said that “the decision taken by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018 led at that time to improve working conditions for about 155,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait.” For his part, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said, “The confusion in the Manila government’s decisions regarding the policy of sending workers is what led to more abuses against Filipino migrant workers.”

However, Villanueva denounced, “How many Filipinos must suffer before we act to stop this abuse?” He concluded by saying, “We are asking our government and the Ministry of Migrant Labor to consider the possibility of imposing a ban (on sending workers to Kuwait) until we can ensure the safety of that employment. We can no longer claim that what happened (to Ranara) was an isolated case.”

Remains of slain OFW Jullebee Ranara in Kuwait brought to Philippines

The remains of slain overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Kuwait Jullebee Ranara was repatriated. Ranara’s body arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Friday night. On Saturday large number of relatives and friends along with family members attended the funeral.

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