No pullout of OFWs in Kuwait – PRRD

Published January 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling and Philippine News Agency

President Duterte is not inclined to withdraw Filipino workers from Kuwait after expressing satisfaction with the Kuwaiti government’s “swift” response to the recent killing of a Filipino worker.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte watches the parade of athletes during the opening ceremony of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on November 30, 2019. (REY BANIQUET/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The President said justice is apparently being served in the death of Filipino worker Jeanelyn Villavende, citing the arrest of the suspects behind the offense.

“The situation is quite different. We do not see apathy there and the police authorities of Kuwait acted swiftly and they have arrested (the suspects),” Duterte said over TV Patrol Friday night.

“Nakita mo naman (You see) there were arrests made. There’s an investigation going on and apparently justice is being done,” he said.

Given the response by the Kuwaiti government, Duterte hinted he would not order the pullout of Filipino workers from Kuwait over the latest incident. “I’m not really keen on moving people out.”

In 2018, Duterte launched a tirade against Kuwait following cases of abuse and exploitation of some Filipino workers. The brutal death of Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis also prompted him  to impose a temporary deployment ban of workers to Kuwait.

At the time, he also threatened to pull out Filipino workers from Kuwait. The incident triggered negotiations to forge an agreement providing additional protection for Filipino workers in Kuwait.

The deployment ban was later partially lifted following the labor protection pact between the nations.

 Kuwait autopsy a lie

But the condition may again change with the death of Villavende.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Friday the government may declare a total ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait in the wake of the questionable autopsy report released by the Kuwaiti government in the Villavende case.

In a press conference at the victim’s wake in Purok Guimbal, Barangay Tinago in Norala, Sotuh Cotabato, Bello deplored the results of the initial autopsy in Kuwait which highly contradicted the re-autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Norala Thursday.

Bello did not disclose the details of the re-autopsy pending the release of the official report but said he was verbally briefed on the initial findings by Dr. Ricardo Rodaje, the NBI’s medico-legal chief Friday.

“Lumalabas na walang kuwenta ang ginawang autopsy ng Kuwait. Di ko pa masabi ang resulta pero talagang kasinungalingan yung autopsy report ng Kuwaiti government (It appears that the autopsy conducted in Kuwait was useless. I can’t discuss the results yet but it made the autopsy report of the Kuwaiti government a total lie),” Bello said.

When pressed by reporters for details, he said they (employers) “did wicked things to the victim and oppressed her too much.”

The autopsy report earlier released by Kuwaiti authorities said the 26-year-old Villavende died of acute heart and respiratory failure as a result of shock and multiple injuries in the vascular system.

However, Rodaje told reporters here after the more-than-three-hour autopsy on Thursday that they were looking into the possibility that the victim was also raped before her death.

Villavende was brought dead to a hospital in Kuwait on December 28 after reportedly being beaten by her lady employer. Her family was informed of her death on December 30.

Bello, who last week declared a partial ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait, said he doubted the “one-sentence” autopsy findings released by Kuwaiti authorities as the cause of the victim’s death was unclear.

He said he immediately requested the NBI to conduct a re-autopsy on Villavende after the repatriation of her remains.

Once he receives the official report on the NBI’s re-autopsy, Bello said he would convene the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and may recommend a total deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait.

“That will not be lifted until we get proper justice (for Villavende),” he said.

As to the suspects in the killing, he said the Kuwaiti couple who had employed the victim has already been detained as confirmed by the labor attache of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait.

He said Kuwaiti Ambassador to Manila Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaihk informed him in a meeting last week that the suspects have already been charged.

Bello said Althwaihk has failed on his promise to deliver a copy of the charge sheet last Monday. (With a report from PNA)