POEA suspends recruitment agency over death of Filipino worker in Kuwait

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The recruitment agency that deployed Jeanelyn Villavende to work as domestic helper in Kuwait has been suspended, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Wednesday.

POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said the 5-star recruitment and manpower agency that deployed Villavende was ordered suspended on January 2 for its alleged inaction over her complaints of maltreatment and underpayment of salary.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier revealed that as early as September, the victim repeatedly sent requests for repatriation to her recruitment agency before she was killed in December.

DOLE has directed the recruitment agency to explain its lack of action on Villavende’s case.

“Inamin naman nila na hindi sila nakapagbigay ng monitoring report and that’s the reason why there was a disciplinary action imposed upon the agency,” Olalia said.

The POEA official, however, clarified the agency’s license is not yet suspended as the investigation is still ongoing.

“We’re still awaiting the appropriate administrative case that will be filed if ever there is any against the said agency,” 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 Kuwaiti employer has been detained by authorities and awaiting the filing of charges.

The Philippine government has since stopped sending newly-hired household service workers to Kuwait.

DOLE said the partial deployment ban may remain until justice is service for Villavende.

This is not the first time that the Philippines imposed a deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait.

In 2018, a total deployment ban was implemented after a string of reports of Filipino workers being abused and killed in Kuwait, including household service worker Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment.

The ban was lifted months later after the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments signed a labor pact for the protection of Filipino workers there. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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