Go calls for transparency in Kuwaiti gov’t probe on death of Filipina worker

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has called on Kuwaiti authorities to be transparent with their investigation into the death of another Filipina household worker.

The victim, Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, allegedly died at the hands of her Kuwaiti employer.

In a radio interview on Thursday, Go condemned Villavende’s brutal killing and called on Kuwaiti authorities to make sure that the perpetrators in Villavende’s case will be punished according to the fullest extent of their laws.

“Kinokondena ko ‘yung pagpatay kay Jeanelyn at despite the May 2018 agreement between the Philippines and Kuwaiti government, there are still reports of violence and abuses committed against our fellow Filipinos in Kuwait,” he said.

“Masakit na iniiwan ng mga kababayan natin ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay upang makapagtrabaho lang sa mga malalayong lugar at mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang pamilya. Mas masakit malaman na sa kabila ng kanilang sakripisyo, sila ay patuloy na naaabuso at minsan namamatay pa,” he added.

The senator also expressed his sympathy for the family of the victim as he vowed to provide assistance for them, particularly for the medical needs of Villavende’s father, with the help of the Malasakit Center.

“Nakikiramay ako sa mga naulila ni Jeanelyn. Asahan na kaisa ninyo ako sa paghanap ng agarang hustisya sa pagkamatay ng inyong mahal sa buhay.”

Go also called on concerned government agencies to coordinate in regard to the immediate repatriation of the slain OFW.

“Kailangang masigurado din na maibigay ng gobyerno at maging ng private insurance company ang lahat ng mga benepisyo para sa mga naulila ni Jeanelyn, katulad ng livelihood assistance, death and burial assistance, scholarship sa naiwang kapamilya at iba pa,” he added.

Citing Villavende’s case, Go underscored the need for a separate department to deal with all overseas Filipino workers’ concerns.

In July 2018, he filed Senate Bill 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019.

The proposed measure aims to establish a Department of Overseas Filipinos to serve as the umbrella agency to specifically address all the issues and concerns of Filipinos abroad and their families, to afford them full protection, promote their full and just employment, mitigate the social costs back home, and serve as a channel to address OFW issues and grievances.

The measure further creates an Overseas Filipinos Assistance Fund to provide financial support to Filipino migrants in distress, inclusive of repatriation and provisions for life-saving funds in times of great emergency or distress, and provides training and livelihood loans for OFWs returning to the Philippines for good.

The bill also mandates the creation of “OFW Malasakit Centers” in all provinces and major cities to ensure prompt and efficient provision of services to OFWs and their families, such as acquisition of government permits, validation of overseas job offers, grievance and complaints desks and reintegration services.

Under current laws, OFWs need to go to different government agencies scattered in several departments and offices to secure their needed documents and present their other concerns, such as employment and technical education.

If passed into law, the measure is seen to help in curbing issues and inconveniences experienced by Filipino migrant workers and will also provide better protection for them.

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