OFWs barred from Kuwait after housemaid’s death

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THE Labor department has barred Filipino workers from going to Kuwait after reports that a Filipino housemaid had been murdered by her employer.

The agency will issue a memo imposing the partial deployment ban, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said on Thursday.

Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa endorsed the ban. Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, a domestic helper in Kuwait, died allegedly in the hands of her employer. No other details of her death were provided.

Meanwhile, the government has repatriated one of two Filipinos workers killed in a car crash in Singapore, the Foreign Affairs department said.

Arlyn P. Nucos and Abigail D. Leste, whose return is still being processed, died after being hit by a car at the Lucky Plaza in Singapore on Dec. 29.

The ban “should serve as a clear message to Kuwaiti authorities,” Mr. Bello said in a statement. “The partial ban may ripen into total deployment ban if justice for Jeanelyn Villavende is not met.”

The Philippine government will ask the worker’s recruitment agency to explain their alleged inaction, Mr. Bello said.

He noted that the victim had complained about maltreatment and underpayment as early as September.

She had also repeatedly asked the agency to get her home, “but they did not do anything,” Mr. Bello said.

Ms. Villavende was beaten heavily, according to preliminary reports. An autopsy had not been done.

The presidential palace condemned the victim’s death, accusing the Kuwaiti government of violating an agreement to protect household service workers in the region.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte was outraged by the death, his spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said at a briefing.

“It is a violation of the agreement between these two countries and the incident is under investigation,” he said.

In 2018, the government barred Filipinos from working in Kuwait after news of the murder of domestic helper Joanna Demafelis broke. The ban lasted for four months. — Gillian M. Cortez and Charmaine A. Tadalan