Villavende employers charged; Kuwait deployment ban stays
The ban was lifted after the Philippines and Kuwait inked an agreement that aims to improve the working conditions of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
Rudy Santos

Villavende employers charged; Kuwait deployment ban stays

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said the ban on deployment of workers to Kuwait stays despite the filing of charges against the employers of domestic helper Jeanelyn Villavende, who was allegedly abused and killed by her employer.?

“Ganun pa rin (It stays),” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a press briefing yesterday.

Earlier this month, the Philippines banned the deployment of workers to Kuwait following the death of Villavende. It was the second time the Duterte administration implemented such policy.?

Two years ago, the Philippines also banned the deployment of workers to Kuwait as a response to the death of at least eight Filipino workers abused by their employers, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer.

The ban was lifted after the Philippines and Kuwait inked an agreement that aims to improve the working conditions of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

Panelo previously said the ban would remain until the terms of the memorandum of understanding are included in the contracts of Filipino workers.  ?He expressed hope that justice would be served to the family of the slain migrant worker.?

“What we are seeking is justice. They filed cases and we welcome that,” the Palace spokesman said.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Kuwaiti government has notified the Philippine government on the filing of criminal case against the employers of Villavende.

Bello, however, said the Kuwaiti notification was informal since the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has yet to receive a copy of the charge sheet.

“They just called to inform us that charges have been filed. But there is no proof (of filing),” Bello disclosed.

Bello said the Philippine government is not inclined at this time to lift the ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait.

Blood money

The family of Villavende will not accept any blood money to settle the case and they would rather seek justice for her.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said Villavende’s family does not want any blood money and they want justice for Villavende’s death.

Go met with the family of the slain worker yesterday and assured them that the government under President Duterte would assist them.

There were reports that an official of the government had contacted the family of Villavende and offered blood money in exchange for the dropping of the case against the suspect couple.

Sen. Joel Villanueva also met with the family of Villavende after the hearing at the Senate.

He also said he heard about the alleged blood money but officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), DOLE and its attached agencies Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) claimed they were not aware of it.

“The officials of DFA, DOLE, OWWA and POEA… promised to look into it,” said Villanueva.

He said the offer of blood money, if true, was insensitive since life does not have a price tag. He noted that the father of Villavende requested that he be allowed to attend the court proceedings against her employers.

The Kuwait autopsy report indicated gory details on the cause of death of Villavende on Dec. 28, 2019. A copy was submitted to the Senate yesterday.

Villanueva said the autopsy report of Kuwait authorities on Villavende indicated maltreatment prior to her death. He asked the National Bureau of Investigation to compare the result of its autopsy to that of Kuwait.

“Ginamitan sya ng wooden spoon at plantsa (They used a wooden spoon and iron),” said Villanueva, who claimed he scanned the report from the Kuwaiti government.

Villanueva presided over a joint hearing by the Senate committees on labor, employment and human resources development and foreign relations on resolutions on government’s migration policies for the welfare and rights of Filipino workers.

During yesterday’s hearing, Rolando Rodaje, chief of the NBI Medico Legal Division, was discussing the injuries incurred by Villavende, including apparent sexual abuse. Villanueva made a request to Rodaje to just continue the report in an executive session.

The senator also revealed that the DOLE submitted to him a copy of the autopsy report on Villavende from the Kuwait Interior Department. DOLE recommended to the Palace to implement a partial ban on the deployment for household service workers (HSWs) to Kuwait following the killing of Villavende.

Another case of killing was in May 2018 when another overseas Filipino worker – Ma. Constancia Dayag, 47, died at the hands of her employer. She was reportedly found covered with bruises, a cucumber inside her genitals. She was rushed to the Al Sabah Hospital in Kuwait but was declared dead on arrival.

Villanueva said he is supporting the recommendation of DOLE on the ban on the deployment of HSWs to Kuwait. Filipinos with existing overseas employment certificates will be deployed. -With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Mayen Jaymalin

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