By EDD K. USMAN
Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
(SDN) — KUWAIT had it coming!
And now it has come.
The ban on sending or deploying overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), this time not only for domestic workers or household workers or maid.
A Business World story on January 17 reported that President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the total ban which now covers not just the household workers but also skilled workers.
The presidential action is in response to the recommendation of an incensed Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) chief Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III to impose the extreme measure.
Bello has branded the Kuwaitis as “sinungaling at walang kwenta” (meaning: liars and good-for-nothing) for sending a “fake and dishonest” two-sentence autopsy report on the death of Jeanelyn Villavende. The briefest of autopsy reports done by Kuwaiti forensics merely said her death was due to “physical injuries.”
“…I found out that the Kuwaiti government’s autopsy report is erroneous, lies and good-for-nothing,” Bello said as reported by ABS-CBN News on January 11. The DOLE chief was then in Noralla, hometown of Villavende in South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao.
“We are not going to send (workers) there anymore. Those Kuwaitis are good for nothing. Imagine what they did to our (fellow Filipino)…They really oppressed our countryman.”
Additionally, the “total deployment ban” will be in effect pending the full implementation of the agreement on labor standards the Philippines and Kuwait signed last year.
The two “friendly” countries agreed in 2018 on the labor pact after a total ban, which was a Philippine response to the killing of a Filipino maid in Kuwait (Joanna Demafelis), whose body was found stuffed inside a freezer apparently killed by her employers.
Villavende raped and tortured?
What added to the anger of Philippine government officials was the autopsy report by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that Villavende may have also been raped.
One of the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kuwait is host to around 250,000 Filipino workers.
Other members of the GCC are Saudi Arabia with over one million Filipinos, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. UAE has more than 600,000 Filipinos. Both figures are from Wikipedia.
SDN — Science and Digital News has tried twice to get a statement from the Kuwait ambassador to the Philippines.
One of the Filipinos working at the Kuwait Embassy in the Philippines said reporters have been trying to get a reaction from Ambassador Musaed Saleh Ahmad Al-Thwaikh, but he is not responding.
Over at the Malacañang Palace, the President’s spokesman, Secretary Salvador Panelo, as reported by ABS-CBN News, said Duterte agreed with the total ban.
He said the President “is for a total ban until the memorandum of agreement between the two countries is fully implemented and the terms of contained therein are incorporated in every labor contract with our OFWs.”
Panelo accused the government of Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as “attempting to hide” the causes of the ill-fated OFW Villavende’s death.
As the Kuwait Embassy led by Al-Twaikh keeps quiet in the Philippines, perhaps he won’t be as quiet now that the total deployment ban has been put in place. (SDN)