Gov’t agencies assist family of household worker beaten to death in Kuwait

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 04 January) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Friday released initial assistance to the family of  household worker from South Cotabato who was killed by her employer in Kuwait late last month and whose death led to a partial ban on deployment of household service workers in Kuwait.

Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 director, said they provided a cash assistance of 10,000 pesos and five boxes of family food packs to the family of victim Jeanelyn Villavende in Barangay Tinago, Norala town in South Cotabato.

He said the move is part of the government’s efforts to assist the needs of the victim’s family as they cope with her untimely passing.

“We offer our prayers and assurance of help to the bereaved families. They are facing a long road ahead but they will not travel it alone,” Espejo told reporters.

Jeanelyn Villavende, 26, of Norala, South Cotabato went to Kuwait in July 2019 to work as household service worker, complained to her placement agency about the maltreatment she was suffering in the hands of her Kuwaiti employers, was last heard on the phone by her family in October and was reported dead in December. Photo from her Jeanelyn Villavende’s FB page

The 26-year-old Villavende went to Kuwait for the first time in July last year to work as a domestic helper. She was reported to have died after being maltreated by her lady employer. The Villavende family was informed of her death on December 30.

Villavende’s employers in Kuwait have since been detained by authorities.

Partial ban

Following Villavende’s death, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)  imposed a partial ban on the deployment of household service workers to Kuwait. A total ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait was imposed in February 2018 but lifted three months later after the two governments agreed on protection measures.

Labor Secretary Silvestre  Bello III said the partial ban, which will cover first time workers who will serve as household service workers in Kuwait, was recommended by Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa and subject to the approval of the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Bello chairs the POEA board.

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

According to Mustafa’s report, Villevende was beaten to death, and was already dead when brought to a hospital. Attending nurses reported that she was “black and blue.”

Bello added that the local placement agency that sent Villavende to Kuwait faces possible cancellation of its license for failure to act on Villavende’s request for repatriation months prior to her brutal death in the hands of her Kuwaiti employer.

“As early as September, she already complained about maltreatment and underpayment of salary. She also repeatedly requested the agency for repatriation, but they did not do anything,” Bello said.

The press statement said the last time Villavende’s family was able to talk to her was in October. On December 13, the family again called but it was her female employer who answered the call and Villavende was busy.

The exact date of her death will be known once the autopsy results are out.

Personal delivery

Espejo said Shalleynie Usman,  DSWD-12’s social welfare action team leader for South Cotabato, personally delivered the assistance and met with Villavende’s father Avelardo and stepmother Nelly Padernal.

He said the team also assessed the other needs of the family that may be provided by the government.

Padernal, who earlier appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to help them,thanked government for the assistance.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, through Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, said it will provide financial, livelihood and scholarship assistance to the family as directed by President Duterte.

“We offer our condolences to Villavende family and our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones. Her family must know that the government is exerting all efforts to assist them in times of crisis,” Espejo said.

Aside from the financial and food assistance, they will provide psychosocial intervention to the bereaved family, he said. (MindaNews)