Slain OFW's employer gets death sentence in Kuwait
The body of Jeanelyn Villavende arrives at the PairCargo warehouse in Pasay City on January 8, 2020
Twitter/DFA Philippines

Slain OFW's employer gets death sentence in Kuwait

(Philstar.com) - December 31, 2020 - 10:21am

MANILA, Philippines — Kuwait's criminal court has sentenced to death the employer of Filipina overseas worker Jeanelyn Villavende who was tortured for days and killed in December last year, foreign affairs officials said Wednesday. 

Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. took to Twitter last night to confirm the news, describing the ruling as "fair and in accordance with [the] law" as well as of the Muslim law Sharia.

"I owe the Kuwait ambassador a blood debt of gratitude," he wrote on the social media platform. "They took my vow seriously: blood for blood, life for life."

Villavende, 26, died in the hands of her employer's wife in December 2019, from heart and respiratory failure brought by multiple injuries of the vascular system, according to the Philippine labor department.

It came barely six months after she flew to the Gulf nation, like any other Filipino worker forced to leave the country, in the hopes of better wages.

For this, the woman employer would meet death by hanging, while her husband would face four years in jail for not reporting the crime, per ABS-CBN.

"May the court’s decision on the Villavende murder case serve as a reminder to everyone that no Filipino is a slave to anyone, anywhere and everywhere, and that justice will always come to the defense of the weak and the oppressed," Manila's embassy in Kuwait said in a statement.

The brutal killing had resulted in a deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait in January, only to be eased by the next month.

It was also later on found that Villavende had sought help from her recruiter as early as September, but her agency did not report it to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. 

RELATEDRecruiter failed to report slain OFW's maltreatment complaint — House labor panel chair

Before her, there was Joana Demafelis, whose body was found slid in a freezer in 2018. 

Her death would spur a diplomatic crisis between the Philippines and Kuwait, leading to a labor deal being signed in the said year.

Among those included in the agreement were measures "against erring employers, domestic workers, Kuwaiti recruitment or Philippine recruitment agencies for any violation of employment contract provisions, applicable laws, rules and regulations of both Parties."

Figures from the country's statistics office put the number of overseas Filipino workers at 2.2 million, based on a 2019 survey.

Cases of maltreatment and abuse, including death, are also no longer new despite being gruesome. Such is part of the reality many have to face to provide their families at home with a better life. — Christian Deiparine with reports from Kristine Joy Patag

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