In light of the recent developments on the death of the Filipino domestic helper Jeanelyn Villavende, the Philippine and Kuwaiti government have already committed to holding diplomatic talks to address the current situation concerning the current state of work and welfare of Filipinos living in the Gulf State.
At the top of the meeting agenda were pressing issues concerning the welfare and well-being of the more than 230,000 Filipinos in Kuwait amid the volatile situation in the region.
PH, Kuwait Hold Talks on OFW Welfare Amid Ongoing Tension in Region
Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Concerns Secretary Abdullah D. Mama-o led the Philippine officials along with Chargé d’Affaires Lomondot and Undersecretary Edwin D. Bael of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns.
Secretary Mama-o met with Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah to echo the message of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to the Kuwaiti government, to ensure the safety and welfare of OFWs in Kuwait amid the current situation in the Middle East.
The Filipino cabinet official also explained to the Kuwait Foreign Ministry official the recent decision of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board to ban the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait.
Concerning the death of Filipina domestic worker Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, Secretary Mama-o expressed his appreciation to the Kuwaiti government for the steps that it has undertaken to bring to justice the suspects in the case, including the immediate arrest of OFW Villavende’s employers.
For their part, the Kuwaiti government as represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Al-Jarallah said that they are willing to allow investigators from the Philippines to join the investigation in Kuwait of the murder of OFW Villavende.
During the said meeting, both the Philippine and Kuwaiti sides expressed hope that issues concerning the rights and protections for the more than 150,000 Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait will be resolved through the soon-to-be-convened Joint Committee Meeting on the 2018 Philippines-Kuwait Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers.
Meanwhile, Chargé d’Affaires Lomondot met with Kuwaiti Assistant Foreign Minister for Protocol Dhari Al-Ajran to personally get the assurances of the Kuwaiti government for a swift and transparent investigation over the killing of OFW Villavende. The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry is expected to release soon the full reports of the police investigation and autopsy on the case of OFW Villavende.
And more recently, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III revealed in a Senate hearing last Tuesday (January 28) that he has been informed of the filing of a murder case against a Kuwaiti couple who were Villavende’s employers. He also confirmed that one of the suspects works for Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior.
An autopsy conducted by the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Villavende’s remains revealed that she sustained “multiple, severe, traumatic injuries” and that there were also indications of sexual abuse.
This development sparked outrage on the Philippine side, which eventually escalated to imposing a total deployment ban of OFWs to the Gulf State.
Despite the positive response and update by the Kuwaiti government on the OFW murder case, Malacañang maintained that the total deployment ban of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait stays.