PH gov't seeks justice for OFW death in Kuwait

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 1, 2020) – The Philippine government condemned the alleged murder of another Filipino domestic worker in the hands of her employer in Kuwait.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin summoned on Tuesday Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh to discuss the death of Jeanelyn Villavende.

"The friendship between your country which gives our people the jobs they cannot find at home and our people whose faithful service make the life of your people easier depends on justice being done the murdered maid," Locsin said in a statement.

"An eye for an eye, a life for a life. I beg you give her justice. We will go after the Filipino recruiters and government officials who put her in harm’s way," he added.

Villavende's death 'clear violation' of agreement between PH, Kuwait

The Department of Labor and Employment said Villavende's death was a "clear violation" of the agreement signed between the Philippines and Kuwait two years ago.

Malacañang expressed a similar sentiment on Wednesday.

"We consider Jeanelyn's tragic death a clear disregard of the agreement signed by both our country and Kuwait in 2018 which seeks to uphold and promote the protection of the rights and welfare of our workers in Kuwait," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

It referred to the deal providing protection of the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Gulf state.

Meanwhile, the Labor department said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration will provide burial, livelihood assistance, and scholarship to the Villavende family.

"The department looks forward to the swift resolution of the case and that justice will be served to Villavende and her family," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said in a statement.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office, meanwhile, is closely monitoring the results of the forensic investigation while coordinating with the family of Villavende for the repatriation of her remains.

Deployment ban encouraged anew

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said Wednesday that Villavende's death calls for an immediate suspension of the deployment of Filipino household workers and organize their voluntary repatriation from Kuwait.

"The Philippine government must compel the Kuwaiti government to immediately bring the perpetrators to justice and make them accountable for the death of our OFW, said TUCP president Raymond Mendoza.

Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo called on the Foreign Affairs department to make sure of appropriate legal representation of OFWs and give priorities to areas with a high rate of worker violence.

He also encouraged the identification of alternate work destinations abroad and the creation of jobs at home.

"Moving forward, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) must develop new markets in jurisdictions where there is high respect for human rights and where our OFWs, particularly our domestic helpers, will be treated with respect and dignity. Train domestic helpers for other skills so they won’t have to work as domestic helpers where they are more prone to abuse, or worse, death," Salo said.

Before the 2018 bilateral labor deal, the Philippine government ordered a total deployment ban of new hires to Kuwait as it learned about the killing of household helper Joanna Demafelis. Her bruised body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait, where it may have been kept for over a year.

READ: FW found in freezer in Kuwait is back home 

Demafelis' female employer was found guilty for her death later on.

READ: Female employer of OFW Joanna Demafelis found guilty of murder