By Christina Hermoso, Leslie Ann Aquino and Analou De Vera
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) said the recent killing of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Kuwait was a failure and violation of an agreement signed between the Philippines and Kuwait on the protection of Filipino migrant workers.
“It was a failure on their part and a clear violation of the signed agreement,” said CBCP-ECMI chairman Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos, over Church-run Radio Veritas. “The Kuwait government is accountable for the gruesome death of our OFW. Constance Dayag has not been protected,” he added.
Constancia Lago Dayag, a 47-year-old household service worker from Agadanan, Isabela, was deployed to Kuwait in January, 2016, and returned in 2018 on a second contract with her Kuwaiti employer, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. She died Tuesday from contusions and hematoma.
“Our government officials should not stop until the guilty is punished by law, and justice for Contancia is served. The abusive employer must be prosecuted, and justice be rendered,” Santos stressed.
The prelate called on the government, including newly elected officials, to create more jobs in the country so Filipinos will not have to leave to work abroad, and to enact laws for the protection of the over 10 million OFWs.
“Please make laws that will create more jobs here so that our people will never be forced to seek jobs abroad, and leave their loved ones. For our newly elected government officials, it is a great service to our OFWs to promulgate laws that will protect our migrant workers and promote their rights,” Santos said.
The DFA has requested for the immediate release of the forensic report on Dayag’s death. The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait has assigned a lawyer to handle the case.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has vowed to seek justice for Dayag. “I am taking the Kuwaiti government to task for the gruesome death of yet another Filipino worker in the hands of her employer in Kuwait. Aside from apparent violation of the agreement on the protection of OFWs between our government and Kuwait, there appears to have been a breach of the employment contract by the foreign employer,” Bello said.
The Philippine government ordered a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait last year following a string of reported deaths and abuses, including that of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer. The ban was lifted after the two countries signed an agreement on May 11, 2018 to protect Filipino migrant workers in the Gulf state.
Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center also denounced Dayag’s killing.
“Kuwait cannot turn its eyes away from such acts of violence inflicted on these vulnerable and innocent migrant workers,” she said.
“The savage manner by which Constancia was killed calls for relentless justice and questionable resolve to protect our OFWs,” said Ople.
“We condole with Constancia’s family. This gruesome crime should not be left unpunished and our sense of outrage should be felt by governments and citizens around the world,” she added.
Ople urged the DFA to get the “best lawyer possible to secure a conviction” on Dayag’s case.
She urged the Philippine government to provide full assistance to Dayag’s family.
“Not just from OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) but other agencies as well including the LGU (local government unit) concerned,” she said.