Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go renewed Sunday his call for the establishment of the Department of Overseas Filipinos or DOFil to better protect the rights of Filipino workers abroad.
Go made the call as he welcomed the Kuwaiti court’s decision on the case of Jeanalyn Villavende, a Filipina domestic worker who was killed by her employers in Kuwait.
The Kuwaiti criminal court has sentenced her woman employer to death by hanging while her husband was meted a four year imprisonment for covering up and not reporting the crime.
“Alam mo, ako po’y nagagalak dahil nabigyan na po ng hustisya na matagal na nating inaasam. Pero hindi na po maibabalik ang buhay ng ating kapwa Pilipino na si Villavende. So, nakakalungkot man po, dapat noon pa ‘yan eh (I am glad that justice has finally been served. But it’s sad that we can no longer bring back the life of our fellow Filipino. It’s sad, it should have been done a long time ago),” Go said.
The murder of Villavende had prompted the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in January 2020 to approve a resolution imposing total deployment ban to Kuwait.
Based on the autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Villavende was found to have been sexually abused and tortured.
The NBI also reported that Villavende’s brain, heart, and some internal organs were missing.
Go strongly condemned the violent killing of the OFW in the hands of her Kuwaiti employer.
“Kinokondena ko ‘yung pagpatay kay Jeanelyn at (I condemn the murder of Jeanelyn and) despite the May 2018 agreement between the Philippines and Kuwaiti government, there are still reports of violence and abuses committed against our fellow Filipinos in Kuwait,” Go added.
“Masakit na iniiwan ng mga kababayan natin ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay upang makapagtrabaho lang sa mga malalayong lugar at mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang pamilya. Mas masakit malaman na sa kabila ng kanilang sakripisyo, sila ay patuloy na naaabuso at minsan namamatay pa (It’s painful for our fellowmen to leave their loved ones to work abroad just to give their families a better life. It’s painful to hear that despite their sacrifices, they are still being abused and sometimes die),” Go added.
Citing Villavende’s case, Go said there is a necessity to create a separate department for overseas Filipinos which aims to put together concerned government agencies dealing with the overseas Filipinos under one umbrella.
If passed into law, Go said that it will help curb issues and inconveniences experienced by overseas Filipinos and would also provide better protection for them.
Establishing a DOFil, he said, would promote streamlined coordination among various officials and offices based abroad through the one country-team approach.
“(It is) about time that we create a Cabinet-level, Secretary-led department with an organization structured to work together as one team to protect the rights and advance the interests and welfare of about ten percent of our population who reside abroad,” Go said.
“Kung in distress ang isang Pilipino abroad, kadalasan, hindi alam kung saan lalapit para humingi ng tulong. Minsan sa radyo, meron sa Facebook. Pero kung merong one country-team approach tayo, alam ng mga kababayan nating humihingi ng tulong kung saan pupunta. Hindi na sila mahihirapan pa (When a Filipino is distressed abroad, they do not know where they could ask for help; they sometimes do it over the radio, others do it on Facebook. But if we have a one country-team approach, our fellowmen would know where to ask for help. They won’t have a difficult time),” he said.