By Leslie Ann Aquino and Rey Panaligan
The Philippine government is imposing a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait in the wake of the death of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jeanelyn Villavende, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced Wednesday.
The move came after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) approved a resolution imposing a total ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait.
It said the total ban was made on recommendation of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Earlier in the day, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra recommended the ban on deployment of workers in Kuwait over the death of two OFWs.
“My recommendation is yes to deployment ban. But I do not know if he Secretary Bello would accept it. He would probably make an announcement. It is really up to DOLE,” Guevarra said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay Forum.
The two incidents on the brutal killing of two OFWs in Kuwait referred to by Guevarra were those involving the death of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment, and the December 28 death of Villavende, who succumbed to multiple, severe and traumatic injuries.
Guevarra said that the death of Demafelis triggered the signing of a bilateral agreement between the governments of the Philippines and Kuwait on the protection of OFWs.
The death of Villavende was a proof that the Kuwaiti government failed to live up to its commitment, he said.
“This happened and now we would see how the government of Kuwait would react on this development. We already have a clear agreement with them so if they do not comply with their undertaking or responsibilities on a government-to government basis, in my opinion our OFWS can find work in other countries,” he pointed out.
“If there are other places where they could work, then why go to a country where you are disrespected, where you are abused,” he stressed.
Earlier, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) submitted to Guevarra its report on the autopsy conducted on the body of Villavende.
Guevarra said that while the autopsy report from Kuwait and the one submitted by the NBI are the same on the cause of death of Villavende, there were findings by the NBI that were not seen in the Kuwaiti autopsy.
Both reports stated that the cause of death was “consistent with multiple, severe, traumatic injuries.”
“The autopsy results from Kuwait and the NBI are essentially the same. They have the same cause of death – Villavende was mauled to death. It is just that the NBI came out with other findings that were not seen in the Kuwaiti report. But the cause of death was the same due to trauma, due to infliction of injuries to the body,” Guevarra said.
But Guevarra pointed out that the NBI autopsy report “showed laceration in both the genitalia and in the anal region, so there are indications of sodomy.”
“We cannot yet conclusively say that she was raped or sodomized until we see the laboratory reports,” he stressed.
The four-page NBI autopsy report stated that “buccal, vaginal, anal, swabbings and fingernail clippings will be submitted to clinical pathology section for examination.”
The report also stated that Villavende’s brain, heart and stomach were missing which might have been the result of the fact that she was previously autopsied before her cadaver was returned to the Philippines and examined by the NBI.