Remains of slain Filipina in Kuwait now in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 8) — The remains of Filipina domestic worker Jeanelyn Villavende have arrived in the Philippines more than a week after her brutal killing in Kuwait.

The plane carrying Villavende's body landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Wednesday afternoon. Her remains will be flown to General Santos City and from there brought to her hometown in South Cotabato.

An embalming certificate released by the Kuwait's Ministry of Health confirmed that 26-year-old Villavende was killed on December 28, 2019. Prior to the release of the document on Tuesday, the exact date of her death was unknown. Her family only learned about her death on December 30, 2019.

Villavende's stepmother told CNN Philippines they had not talked to her in two months since her Kuwaiti employee would not allow her to take calls.

READ: Slain OFW wasn't allowed to talk to family for 2 months

According to an autopsy conducted in Kuwait, Villavende died of "acute failure of heart and respiration" as a result of shock and multiple injuries in the vascular nervous system.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it has commissioned a "top-notch criminal lawyer" in Kuwait to pursue the case against the killers of Villavende. It added that it gave the Villavende family P100,000 in financial aid.

"For what they did to her, the death penalty is a mercy," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr. tweeted, assuring that "there will be blood." He also vowed to go after the local recruiter of Villavende.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told CNN Philippines that the National Bureau of Investigation will conduct its own autopsy on Villavende's body. Authorities have said Villavende had been beaten “black and blue” before being rushed to the hospital.

The suspects – the couple in the household where the Filipina worked – are now detained.

The Philippine government has since stopped sending newly-hired household service workers to Kuwait. Labor Secretary Silverstre Bello III the partial deployment ban may be lifted once justice is served for Villavende.

PH-Kuwait relations

The Philippines implemented a total deployment ban in February 2018 after a string of reports of Filipino workers being abused and killed in Kuwait, including Filipina maid Joanna Demafelis who was found dead inside a freezer. The total ban was also lifted in May that year.

The two countries also signed an agreement for the protection of Filipino workers. Bello, however, lamented that certain provisions have not been followed, including the drafting of a template employment contract that would allow Filipinos to keep their passports and cellphones which are often surrendered to employers. The working and sleeping hours should also be specified, Bello said.

More than 200,000 Filipinos are in Kuwait, mostly household service workers.

The Gulf state is the tenth biggest source of remittances, with Filipinos working there sending $625.9 million (around ₱31.97 billion) back home from January to October 2019, according to central bank data.