Murdered OFW in Kuwait sought help from agency months before her death – DOLE

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The recruitment agency that deployed Jeanelyn Villavende to Kuwait is facing possible cancellation of its license over the death of the Filipino household worker, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

In a statement on Thursday, Bello said they will ask Villavende’s agency to explain its inaction on the OFW’s repeated requests for repatriation months before her death.

“As early as September, she already complained about maltreatment and underpayment of salary. She also repeatedly requested the agency for repatriation, but they did not do anything,” he said.

Preliminary reports submitted by Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait revealed that Villavende was beaten to death, purportedly by her employer, and was already dead when brought to a hospital. Attending nurses reported that she was ‘black and blue.’

The exact date of Villavende’s death is yet to be determined after the autopsy.

The report said Villavende’s family was last able to talk to her in October. They again tried to contact her on December 13, but it was her female employer who who answered the call and told them that Villavende was “busy.”

The Kuwaiti employer has since been detained by authorities.

According to Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, death and burial benefits will be extended to the OFW, while her family will receive livelihood assistance and educational scholarship for her youngest sibling.

Cacdac recently went to Norala in South Cotabato to condole with Villavende’s family and extend government assistance.

Villavende’s death has prompted the Philippine government to impose fresh partial deployment ban to Kuwait.

Bello said the ban will only cover first time workers who will serve as household service workers to Kuwait, and excludes skilled and vacationing workers.

“This should serve as a clear message to Kuwaiti authorities. The partial ban may ripen into total deployment ban if justice for Jeanelyn Villavende is not met,” he said.

In 2018, the Philippines and Kuwait signed a labor pact seeking to protect Filipino workers from abuses. This was after the Philippines implemented a deployment ban following the killing of Joanna Demafelis.

Demafelis’ remains were discovered inside a freezer where she was believed to have been kept for more than a year after she was reported missing in 2016.

Her employers, believed to have fled Kuwait a year before her frozen body was found, were later arrested in Syria and convicted for murder charges.

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