Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the local placement agency that sent Jeanelyn Villavende to Kuwait faces possible cancellation of its license for its failure to act on her request for repatriation months before her violent death at the hands of her Kuwaiti employer.
Bello said the partial ban was recommended by Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa and subject to the approval of the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, which Bello chairs.
Bello said the ban will cover only first time workers who will serve as household service workers to Kuwait and excludes skilled and vacationing workers.
“This should serve as a clear message to Kuwaiti authorities. The partial ban may ripen into total deployment ban if justice for Jeanelyn Villavende is not met,” Bello said.
Based on preliminary reports submitted by Mustafa of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait, Villevende was beaten to death and was already dead when she was brought to a hospital. Attending nurses reported that she was black and blue.
“We will also ask Villavende’s recruitment agency to explain their inaction. As early as September, she already complained about maltreatment and underpayment of salary. She also repeatedly requested the agency for repatriation, but they did not do anything,” Bello said.
Villavende’s family was last able to talk to her in October. On Dec. 13, the family again called Jeanelyn but her female employer was the one who answered the call and said that she was busy.
The exact date of Villavende’s death has yet to be determined. The employer is currently detained in Kuwait.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, who went to Norala, South Cotabato to condole with Villavende’s family, said that death and burial benefits will be extended to her, while her family will receive livelihood assistance and a scholarship for her youngest sibling.
A pro-workers group, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, called for a congressional investigation into Villavende’s death while working for a Kuwaiti government employee.
“The male employer works for the Ministry of Interior in Kuwait. He should have been the first to protect [the OFW] from the abusive behavior of his wife. By the time he brought the badly beaten OFW to Al Sabah Hospital, it was already too late,” said Susan Ople, president of the policy center.
“If even government personnel behave this way, then how can we expect better and more humane treatment for our OFWs in Kuwait?” she added.
Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, said the Labor department should reach out to its counterparts in Kuwait and see how justice may be achieved for the slain Filipino worker.
“We call for justice into her senseless death,” also said Villanueva as he urged the authorities to pursue all available legal means to ensure her family attains justice they deserve.
Villanueva also questioned the implementation of the Kuwaiti bilateral agreement signed in 2018 that was supposed to protect Filipino workers in Kuwait.
“We all thought that when the government entered into the bilateral labor agreement, our workers there would have better protection against all forms of abuse, effectively stopping the senseless deaths of our overseas Filipino workers at the hands of their employers,” he said.
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