MANILA — Malacañang was infuriated on Wednesday by the reported killing of Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, a Filipino household worker in Kuwait.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Villavende’s death at the hands of her female employer clearly violates the 2018 pact signed between the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments to protect the overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) rights.
Panelo made the remarks, as he condoled with the family and loved ones of Villavende.
“The Palace expresses its outrage over the death of Filipino worker, Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, allegedly in the hands of her female employer who is now in the custody of Kuwaiti authorities,” the Palace official said.
“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,” he added. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Monday that Villavende has been killed by her employer’s wife.
The slain OFW’s death came even after Manila and Kuwait signed on May 11, 2018 a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that aims to ensure that Filipino migrant workers in the Arab state will be protected and treated equally.
The MOA between the two countries was seen as a solution to end the persistent human rights violations committed by Kuwaiti employers against their Filipino domestic helpers.
Panelo said the DFA is closely monitoring Villavende’s case.
“We look forward to its resolution for the rendition of justice to the deceased and her family,” he said.
Panelo added that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office is also keeping an eye on the results of the forensic investigation while coordinating with the family of Villavende for the repatriation of her remains.
In the meantime, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has been directed to provide burial and livelihood assistance, as well as scholarship grants to the family members of the slain Filipino migrant worker, the Palace official said.
It was in January last year when President Rodrigo Duterte first addressed the series of abuses against OFWs in Kuwait.
The President then directed the Labor department in February 2018 to enforce a total deployment ban to Kuwait, following the continued abuses and maltreatment to Filipino workers there, including Joanna Demafelis whose body was found stored in a freezer in an abandoned flat in the Gulf nation.
The deployment ban was later lifted, following the signing of the MOA on OFW’s protection in Kuwait.
Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos/PNA