Foreign secretary firm on ‘eye for an eye’ resolution in Kuwait worker’s murder


FOREIGN AFFAIRS Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. has reiterated his position of an “eye for an eye” approach in the murder of Filipino overseas worker Jeanelyn Villavende, even as the Philippines and the Kuwaiti government have began meeting to settle issues. “I am interested first and foremost in an eye for an eye, two lives for the life they took. I won’t settle for less. The rest is a sideshow,” Mr. Locsin said in a social media post late Tuesday. “I will not trade that poor woman’s torment for some… concession on labor rights.” The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait reported upon meeting with the Kuwaiti government on Jan. 19 that the latter has agreed to allow the Philippines to investigate Ms. Villavende’s murder. “To show Kuwait’s commitment in the case, Deputy Foreign Minister (Khaled) Al-Jarallah said that his government is willing to allow investigators from the Philippines to join the investigation in Kuwait,” the embassy said in a statement on Tuesday. The embassy also said the Kuwaiti government is expected to release the full reports of the police investigation and autopsy “soon.” The Joint Committee Meeting on the 2018 Philippines-Kuwait Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers is also set to convene. President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week approved the total deployment ban on OFWs to Kuwait, covering both household workers and skilled workers. The ban was recommended by Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration after the re-autopsy report, conducted by the Philippine’s National Bureau of Investigation, showed Ms. Villavende was physically and sexually abused. The government had previously declared a deployment ban to Kuwait in 2018, which lasted four months, over the murder of domestic helper Joanna Demafelis. In May 2019, It sought to review its memorandum of agreement with the Kuwaiti government after the killing of another Filipina, Constancia Dayag. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

P2B budget eyed for judicial marshal service

THE SENATE committee on Justice and Human Rights is eyeing a P2-billion budget allocation for the creation of the Philippine Judicial Marshal Service. Senator Richard J. Gordon, who chairs the panel, is pushing the measure that will strengthen the security of judges in the country and avoid compromising their service. “Ang legislative (budget) malaki, ang Presidente, lalong malaki. Bakit hindi natin pu-proteksyunan ang judges (The legislative budget is big, the President’s even higher. Why wouldn’t we protect our judges)?” he said in a briefing, noting the judiciary is a “co-equal branch of the government.” He added that he is ready to recommend as much as P5 billion, should a higher amount be required to cover 2,700 judges in the country. In the last 10 years, 31 judges have been killed, of which six of cases were dismissed, while some are still pending. The proposed judicial marshals will provide security as well as gather intelligence on possible threats to judges. Mr. Gordon said the committee will be holding one final hearing to finalize the measure, before it sponsors the bill for plenary consideration. — Charmaine A. Tadalan