OFW Jullebee Ranara’s killer convicted of murder

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said the killer of Kuwait-based overseas Filipino worker Jullebee Ranara has been convicted of murder.

Ranara’s killer, the 17-year-old son of her Kuwaiti employer, was sentenced by a juvenile court to 15 years in prison for murder and one year of incarceration for driving without a license.

“The lesser penalties were due to the accused being a minor," the DFA said. "He has 30 days to appeal the judgement to the Court of First Instance."

According to the DFA, Ranara’s family has been informed of the conviction. It added that the Philippine government is appreciative of Kuwaiti authorities for its quick resolution of the case.

The 35-year-old OFW was killed in January this year. Her body was found burnt and mangled in the Kuwaiti desert on Jan. 21.

READ: DMW vows justice for slain OFW in Kuwait

Kuwaiti publication Arab Times reported that the OFW was raped, and autopsy showed that she was pregnant when she was murdered.

The Department of Migrant Workers revealed that Ranara told her mother that her employer’s “cruel” teenage son had been abusing her, before he murdered her. The agency prohibited her employer from hiring other Filipino workers.

Her body was returned to the Philippines on January 27. An autopsy was conducted a day later.

Ranara’s murder sparked calls anew to halt the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait, a country where many Filipino workers have been brutally killed.

A deployment ban was imposed in April 2018 after domestic helper Joanna Daniela Demafelis was killed, and her body found stuffed in a freezer. It was lifted the same year after the two countries inked a protection agreement for OFWs in Kuwait.

The following year, Constancia Lago Dayag and Jeanelyn Villavende were killed by their Kuwaiti employers in May and December 2019, respectively. This prompted the implementation of a total deployment ban to the Gulf state in January 2020.

The ban was lifted a month later in February 2020 after murder charges were filed against VIllavende’s employers.

When news of Ranara’s death broke, the DMW said it was not considering a new deployment ban to the country but sought additional safeguards for OFWs.

Kuwait is host to over 240,000 Filipino workers.

OFW Partylist Rep. Marissa Magsino lauded the conviction but said an overarching issue still remains for the sector.

“We need key reforms through stronger bilateral agreements that should include a standard contract, a system for rescuing workers in distress, and investigating worker abuses and deaths,” the lawmaker said.

“Huwag natin iiwan ang kaso ni Jullebee Ranara bilang numerong dumagdag sa istatistika ng mga inabusong OFWs bagkus ay maging hamon ito na paigtingin ang proteksyon ng ating gobyerno laban sa abuso at pananamantala sa ating mga OFWs,” she added.

[Translation: Let’s not allow Ranara’s case to become another statistic among abused OFWs, but let it challenge the government to strengthen its protection of OFWs against abuse.]