Employers of slain OFW in Kuwait charged with murder

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 28) — The employers of slain Filipina domestic worker Jeanelyn Villavende are now facing murder charges in Kuwait.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in a Senate hearing on Tuesday disclosed that he has been informed of the filing of a criminal case against the Kuwaiti couple.

"Just today I was informed that the employers have been formally charged with murder... Yung detention nila yung para sa mga high criminals yung tawag e," Bello said at the Senate committee on labor's hearing on the government's migration policies.

He also confirmed that one of the suspects works for the Kuwait's Ministry of Interior.

Earlier reports quoted Villavende's family in Norala town, South Cotabato saying they have rejected more than ₱50 million in blood money being offered by the Kuwaiti suspects to settle the case. Foreign Affairs Secretary Tedoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin, Jr. also reiterated that the government will never accept money in exchange for justice.

"All I care about is blood for blood," he said in a tweet, which has apparently irked some Kuwaiti government officials, based on a report of state-run Kuwait News Agency.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration administrator Hans Cacdac said labor officials are heading to Kuwait this Friday to get updates on the case against Villavende's employers.

He added that the government will also bring Villavende's father to Kuwait to witness the hearings once the trial starts, as requested by the family.

Local autopsy showed that Villavende suffered at least five months of abuse until her death on December 28, 2019. There were clear indications of sexual abuse, said Ricardo Rodaje, chief medico legal of the National Bureau of Investigation.

READ: Slain OFW in Kuwait was sexually abused, autopsy report shows

He also lamented that the initial autopsy done in Kuwait seemed "roughly done" based on the autopsy incision on Villavende's head. He said autopsied bodies from the Middle East, like Villavende's, usually have missing organs when flown to the Philippines – a practice that is not acceptable in the country which places high respect for the deceased.

Villavende's death has resulted in a total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait. Bello said Filipinos will not be allowed to work in Kuwait unless the Gulf state would serve justice for Villavende and finally agree to implement a standard employment contract which would ensure the welfare of Filipino domestic helpers.

Presidential Spokesperson Salavador Panelo welcomed the charges against Villavende's employers, but stressed that the ban stays for now.