Philippines outraged by another OFW death in Kuwait

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday, January 1, expressed outrage over the death of another overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Kuwait in "clear disregard" of the 2018 agreement on workers' welfare.

Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende allegedly died in the hands of her female employer, who is now in the custody of Kuwaiti authorities.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace condoled with the Villavende family and assured that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is closely monitoring the case.

"We consider Jeanelyn's tragic death a clear disregard of the agreement signed by both our country and Kuwait in 2018 which seeks to uphold and promote the protection of the rights and welfare of our workers in Kuwait," Panelo said in a statement on January 1.

He said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has been directed to provide burial and livelihood assistance, as well as scholarship to the family members of Villavende.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office, meanwhile, is awaiting the results of the forensic investigation while coordinating with the Villavende family for the repatriation of Jeanelyn's remains.

The DFA earlier said Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has summoned the Kuwaiti Ambassador in Manila to express the Philippine government’s outrage over the seeming lack of protection for Filipino domestic workers, press for complete transparency in the investigation of the case and call for the swift prosecution of the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.

In a separate statement, the Department of Labor and Employment also said Villavende's death was "a clear violation" of the agreement, which seeks to uphold and promote the protection of the rights and welfare of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

The agreement, which was signed in May 2018, paved for the lifting of the total ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait.

Read: Philippines, Kuwait sign OFW deal

President Rodrigo Duterte had imposed the ban following the violent death of Joanna Demafelis, whose mutilated body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait in February 2018.

About six of every 100 OFWs were deployed to Kuwait, based on data gathered by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in April 2019.

The PSA said there were about 2.3 million OFWs from April to September 2018. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)