DFA, lawmakers express dismay over lack of protection for OFWs in Kuwait

Maris Federez

(FILE) Filipino household workers who were repatriated from Kuwait arrive at Manila’s international airport, Philippines, 21 February 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), along with several lawmakers in the Senate, has condemned the killing of another domestic helper, Jeanelyn Villavende, in Kuwait.

The DFA has summoned the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines to manifest the government’s outrage over the seeming lack of protection for domestic workers in the hands of their employers in the said country.

The department insists that there should be “complete transparency in the investigation of the case and to call for the swift prosecution of the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

It can be recalled that the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments have come to an agreement in 2018 for the strengthening and enforcement of the protection measures for OFWs.

On his twitter post, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said, “This is the ONLY official line: “All I asked for is the life of the taker for the life taken. And I don’t care whose life that is. The life of a Filipino—maid or socialite—is the equal of the life of a queen.” As for the rest of it, that has nothing to do.”

Senator Christopher Bong Go, on the other hand, vowed to help attain justice for the slain OFW and facilitate the immediate repatriation of her remains.

Senator Go said President Rodrigo Duterte initially had plans to make a visit to Kuwait but with the sudden turn of events, this may no longer be realized.

Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development chairman Joel Villanueva also expressed his dismay over the incident.

Villanueva questioned the implementation of the bilateral labor agreement that the government has entered into that should have been a venue that will give way for better protection measures against all kinds of abuse and put a stop on incidents where employers resort to killing their employees, particularly OFWs.

“We question the implementation of the Kuwaiti bilateral agreement signed last 2018 that was supposed to protect our workers in Kuwait. We all thought that when the government entered into the bilateral labor agreement, our workers there would have better protection against all forms of abuse, effectively stopping the senseless deaths of our overseas Filipino workers at the hands of their employers,” Villanueva said.

The contract stemmed from the killing of Joanna Demafelis by her employers in Kuwait.

Demafelis was found dead inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in February 2018. — (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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