By Ellson Quismorio
Why not demand “blood money” from the Kuwaiti employer’s family who killed Filipino household service worker Jeanelyn Villavende?
Thus suggested Agusan del Norte 1st district Rep. Lawrence Fortun Friday as he alluded the fixation or the preference people in the region have for blood money.
“For the sensitive situation in Kuwait, applying the principle of reciprocity, our country should demand blood money from the Kuwaiti employer’s family aside from the expeditious prosecution and conviction of the killer,” Fortun said in a statement.
“Blood money they understand. The bilateral agreement — that they do not understand. We should communicate with them in ways they can understand,” added the Minority Bloc solon.
Blood money refers to the compensation paid by an offender (usually a murderer) to the next of kin of the victim. In most cases in the Middle East wherein an OFW is convicted for murder, the payment of blood money is the only way to save the Filipino from execution.
Villavende, Fortun’s fellow Mindanaoan, was reportedly killed by her female employer, who Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said was detained.
The remains of the victim from Norala, South Cotabato was being repatriated.
“We should put an end to this continued disrespect of our so-called bilateral agreement which only our side has been religiously observing. This agreement has failed, time and again, to protect Filipino household service workers from being subjected to slave treatment by cruel employers,” Fortun said.
Bello, for his part, has floated the possibility of imposing a deployment ban on Filipino workers to Kuwait.
It can be recalled that President Duterte banned the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the oil-rich state in 2018 following the killing of Joanna Demafelis, whose corpse was found in a freezer.
OFWs account for a large portion of the 660,000 foreign domestic workers in Kuwait, which also includes nationals from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Ethiopia.
In May 2018, the governments of Kuwait and the Philippines signed an agreement meant to assure Filipino domestic workers greater protection against potential maltreatment.
The accord also recognizes the rights of Filipino domestic workers to have at least one day off work every week, and to have physical possession of their passports that many Kuwaiti employers tend to confiscate, among other entitlements.
The pact was reached after the Philippine government ordered the deployment ban in February of the same year.