Labor chief hits ‘cover-up’ on Kuwait OFW’s death
MANILA, Philippines — An alleged cover-up by Kuwaiti authorities on the real cause of death of a Filipina household service worker triggered the total deployment ban of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to Kuwait, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.
“Kaya kami nagdeklara ng total deployment ban ay hindi lamang dun sa panggagahasa, ‘yung cover up e. Kasi itong kanilang autopsy report ang sinabi sa report na namatay siya (Jeanelyn Villavende) dahil sa heart failure caused by injuries, hindi nila nilagay yung panggagahasa, pangaaubuso sa katawan ng ating kababayan,” Bello said in an interview with dzMM on Thursday.
(The reason why we declared a total deployment ban is not only because of the rape, but also because of the cover-up. Because their autopsy indicated that she died due to heart failure caused by injuries, the autopsy report did not mention that she was raped and abused).
“Kung makita niyo lang po yung picture nung kay Jeanelyn (Villavende) e hindi kayo maniniwala na gagawin yan ng tao e, gawa ng hayop yun e,” he added.
(If you only saw Jeanelyn’s picture, you would not believe that a person did that to her, it was something that a beast will do).
An embalming certificate from the Kuwaiti government showed that Villavende died of “acute failure of heart and respiration” as a result of shock and multiple injuries in the vascular nervous system.
But a separate autopsy conducted by the NBI showed that Villavende’s brain, heart, and some internal organs were missing; and that she also suffered multiple, severe traumatic injuries including genitalia injuries –an indication that she was sexually abused.
Meanwhile, Bello said he has yet to receive proof that charges were indeed filed against Villavende’s employers.
“Sabi sakin ng ambassador nila na-charge na raw pero hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin pinapakita sa akin yung charge sheet na nakasampa na laban sa mag-asawa,” he said.
(The Kuwaiti ambassador informed me that the employers were charged but until now, I have yet to see the charge sheet to prove that the couple was charged).
“Medyo mataas ata ang pwesto sa Ministry of Interior,” Bello noted, referring to one of Villavende’s employers.
(I believe one of her employers holds a high position in the Ministry of Interior).
On Wednesday, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board approved a resolution for a total deployment ban to Kuwait.
“Kahapon nagmeeting kami ng governing board ng POEA at nagdeklara kami ng total deployment ban sa Kuwait,” Bello said.
(The POEA governing board and I had a meeting yesterday and we declared a total deployment ban to Kuwait).
Bello said that the ban would also cover vacationing household service workers who will return to Kuwait.
Returning professionals and skilled workers are exempted from the ban, he said.
Bello said the ban will remain imposed unless justice is served and that a standard employment contract for OFWs is created.
The standard employment contract, the labor chief said, would reflect the provisions of a 2018 labor agreement between the two countries seeking the protect OFWs in Kuwait from abuses.
In 2018, the Philippines and Kuwait signed a labor agreement after the former imposed a total deployment ban following the death of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer.
“Hindi pa rin nagkakaroon ng standard employment contract…yun din ang napagkasunduan natin na sana meron standard employment contract na nandun yung mga probisyon na gusto ng ating Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte para sa gayon ay protektado ang ating mga OFWs. Hindi minamaltrato, hindi ginagahasa,” Bello said.
(There’s still no standard employment contract…that was what we agreed on that we have this standard employment contract that will reflect the provisions that the President wants so that our OFWs are protected. They are not maltreated and sexually abused).
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