Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday said the ban on Filipino workers to Kuwait was effective immediately as per the instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Pursuant to that directive of the president, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration issued a resolution suspending the deployment of our OFWs to Kuwait, which will cover all,” Bello said.
He made the statement even as Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday he favors a total ban on the deployment of Filipino domestic helpers to Kuwait following the death of Jeanalyn Villavende.
“But it’s really up to the DOLE [Department of Labor and Employment]. They’re discussing it now,” Guevarra said in a text message.
The Philippine government has ordered a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait following reports that Villavende was sexually abused and tortured before she was killed.
The death of Villavende had initially prompted the government to implement a partial deployment ban on Filipino workers to Kuwait, particularly the first-time household service workers.
Guevarra said the Philippine government had already entered into an agreement with the Kuwaiti government after the deaths of several Filipinos in the Gulf state, including Joanna Demafelis, who was found dead in a freezer in 2018.
The agreement was intended to provide protection to Filipino workers in Kuwait. It also provides that the Filipinos there should have a day off and at least seven hours of sleep daily, and their passports free from confiscation by their employers.
Guevarra said the Philippine government will see how Kuwait acts on Villavende’s killing.
“If they don’t comply with their undertakings or responsibilities under the government-to-government agreement, talagang
in my opinion, ‘di naman
Kuwait lang ang pwede mo puntahan
,” Guevarra said in a news forum in Manila.
“Marami pa namang ibang lugar na pwede ka magtrabaho
. Why go to a country where you are disrespected, where you are abused?”
Nonetheless, Guevarra acknowledged that incident like the case of Villavende were also happening elsewhere.
An autopsy report by the National Bureau of Investigation showed that Villavende died of “multiple, severe, traumatic injuries.” It also shows signs she had been sexually abused.
Guevarra said he expected to receive the laboratory results that may conclusively say if Villavende had been raped. With Vito Barcelo