Total deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait imposed by POEA board

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The remains of maltreated OFW Jeanelyn Villavende being carried out from airport. (Photo courtesy by UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines — Contrary to what President Duterte earlier said or announced, the Philippines is now halting deployment of all workers to Kuwait on the heels of the brutal killing of 26-year-old Filipino domestic helper Jeanelyn Villavende.

Early this week, President Duterte announced that he may not impose total deployment ban on overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait because he said Kuwaiti authorities swiftly acted on Villavende’s case by arresting immediately the victim’s employers.

But on Wednesday the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued a board resolution imposing the total ban on sending OFWs to Kuwait as allegedly recommended by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The ban covers all types and categories of workers are but in some cases exemption may be provided or as determined and certified by the labor secretary.

OFWs presently working in Kuwait will only be allowed to finished their respective contracts but they may no longer be allowed to return to Kuwait save for highly skilled OFWs.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he supports the deployment ban, “because Kuwait had failed to protect Villavende.”

Presidential Spokesman Sal Panelo has yet to comment on the latest development on Kuwait.

According to reports, Villavende reportedly died at the hands of her employer’s wife last Dec. 28.

This follows another brutal incident involving 29-year-old Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer of an abandoned apartment in Kuwait.

The incident led to the signing of the bilateral agreement between the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments in May 2018 covering protections and rights.

Non-surrender of their passports is also included on the provisions of the bilateral agreement but OWFs aver this is not allegedly being followed by Kuwaiti employers.

“This happened and now we would see how the government of Kuwait would react to this development. We already have a clear agreement with them. So, if they do not comply with their undertaking or responsibilities, government-to-government, in my opinion our OFWS can find work in other countries,” Guevarra said.

“If there are other places where they could work, then why go to a country where you are disrespected, where you are abused?”

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. does not favor using the murder of Villavende as leverage to get Kuwait to sign on to labor standards, saying it is an “eye for an eye” and “Kuwaiti lives for a Filipino life.”

“POEA wants to use torture/murder of OFW Jeanalyn Villavende as leverage to get Kuwait to sign on to labor standards. Signing on doesn’t mean observing in Middle East. I will not use Jeanalyn as leverage. I want an eye for an eye, 2, 3 Kuwaiti lives for a Filipino life, that’s all,” Locsin tweeted.

“Once a total ban is declared, Kuwait will live with it and Jeanalyn will be unavenged and all we’ll have is a piece of paper that Filipino recruiters in connivance with Filipino officials will treat exactly as that: a piece of paper. Sick of standards. I want blood,” Locsin said.

Locsin also said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has commissioned a top-notch criminal lawyer in Kuwait to pursue the case against the employers of Villavende.

Relatively, Locsin has already summoned Kuwaiti Ambassador Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh to protest ”the seeming lack of protection of our domestic workers at the hands of their employers” and called for “complete transparency” in the investigation of the case and the “swift prosecution of the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

“We take ’em all home and send them where they will be respected. But no Filipino recruiter will have a hand in their redeployment nor any Filipino agency we know are in league with recruiters. It will be government to government – clean and transparently,” Locsin said.

On the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) autopsy report to the DOJ secretary on Tuesday evening, Villavende died from multiple, severe, traumatic injuries.

“The autopsy results from Kuwait and the NBI are essentially the same. They have the same cause of death, Villavende was mauled to death. It is just that the NBI came out with other findings that were not seen in the Kuwaiti report. But the cause of death was the same due to trauma, injury due to infliction of injuries to the body,” Guevarra said.

“The autopsy report is a factual report but we cannot yet conclusively say that she was raped or sodomized until we see the laboratory reports. But the autopsy report showed laceration in both the genitalia and in the anal region, so there are indications of sodomy.” (IAMIGO/Currentph.com)

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