NORALA, South Cotabato (MindaNews / 09 January) – Grief and horror gripped this bucolic town as the remains of Jeanelyn Villavende, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was recently slain in Kuwait, arrived Thursday morning.
Relatives who emerged from the morgue of the Emerald Funeral Parlor here were horrified after viewing the remains of the woman who left their quaint farming village last year to seek greener pastures abroad for her poor family.
“Those who killed her were more than beasts,” her uncle Moises Villavende said after viewing her remains, illustrating the crack at the back of her head and the many bruises in the different parts of her body.
“I cannot stomach watching her cadaver for too long. When she left last year, she was looking good and healthy. Now she looks skinny,” he added.
Villavende’s frozen remains arrived in a white wooden casket at around 10:30 a.m. heavily guarded by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The media were allowed to enter the morgue but later asked to go out when the remains were opened for viewing to her relatives.
Over 100 relatives and residents gathered at the funeral parlor to sympathize with the victim’s immediate family.
Moises, who previously served as a village chairman, said that the killers of her niece must also pay with their lives.
In front of the municipal hall about a kilometer away from the funeral parlor, a lone streamer was seen hanging seeking justice for the victim.
Zosimo Panisales, another uncle of the slain OFW on her mother’s side, was also shocked after he viewed the victim’s remains at the morgue.
“Her body showed that she was badly beaten. Those who killed her were not humans,” he noted in the vernacular.
Abelardo Villavende signed the papers granting permission to the NBI to conduct another autopsy on the remains of his 26-year-old daughter moments after they arrived here.
Her remains arrived Wednesday in Manila from Kuwait. Abelardo and his partner Nelly Padernal, the aunt and stepmother of Jeanelyn, were flown to Manila to meet her cadaver.
In Manila, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin met with the victim’s kin and assured them of assistance in the quest for justice. He also gave them financial assistance worth P100,000.
Abelardo and Nelly flew with the casket from Manila to General Santos City Thursday morning and travelled for more than two hours to their hometown here, accompanied by workers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
The couple did not speak to the media at the funeral parlor.
After emerging from the morgue weeping, Nelly slumped in a chair and blurted: “Kaluoy si Tata. Naiba ang itsura. Kaluluoy gid. Kaluluoy gid (Tata is pitiful. She looks awful. She is very pitiful. She is very pitiful).”
Tata is the nickname of Villavende.
Villavende parents’ earlier wanted “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” to be applied to her killers, for justice to be served to the victim.
Kuwait reinstated in 2017 the death penalty for capital crimes like murder and rape.
Villavende’s death shattered the family, whom the slain OFW promised to give a good life and out of indebtedness, Nelly said earlier.
The slain OFW left the country for the first time in mid-2019 to work for a couple in the Gulf nation. She was recruited by an agency based in Sultan Kudarat province.
“All she wanted was to build us a better house and to redeem the ¾ hectare farm that was mortgaged in the amount of P350,000 now,” her stepmother said.
Kristine Marie Sison, OWWA-12 director, said her office still doesn’t have a copy of the autopsy results conducted by authorities in Kuwait on the remains of Villavende.
Another OWWA official from the central office told reporters that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac would arrive on Friday to discuss the details of the case.
Bello earlier said the employers of Villavende had been detained by the Kuwaiti government for investigation.
Following Villavende’s death, the Philippines imposed a partial deployment ban of workers to Kuwait. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)