LABOR Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III has frozen the processing of papers for new Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to Kuwait, after reports of a Filipino domestic worker murdered by her Kuwaiti employers.

On Thursday, Mr. Bello said that a memorandum will be released declaring the partial deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait. This is based on the recommendation of Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa which is still awaiting review by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Jeanelyn Villavende, the domestic worker, was allegedly killed by her employers, according to reports. Mr. Bello said in a statement Thursday that the ban “should serve as a clear message to Kuwaiti authorities. The partial ban may ripen into a total deployment ban if justice for Jeanelyn Villavende is not done.”

“We will also ask Villavende’s recruitment agency to explain their inaction. As early as September, she had complained about maltreatment and underpayment of salary. She also repeatedly requested the agency for repatriation, but they did not do anything,” he added.

Preliminary reports indicate that Ms. Villavende was beaten but an autopsy has yet to be performed.

The Palace condemned the death of Ms. Villavende which it said is a violation of an agreement to protect household service workers.

“The President is outraged by that. It is a violation of the agreement between these two countries and the incident is under investigation,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a briefing Thursday.

In 2018, President Rodrigo R. Duterte called for the total ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait after the murder of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis. The ban lasted for four months. — Gillian M. Cortez