Jeanelyn Villavende murder: Kuwaiti court hands death penalty to female employer, 4 years in jail for husband

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 31 December)— For the family of a murdered overseas Filipino worker (OFW), the year kicked off by grief is closing on a jubilant note.

This as the family of Jeanelyn Villavende, who died in Kuwait one year ago, lauded Thursday, the last day of 2020, a Kuwaiti court for sentencing her female employer to death by hanging and her male employer to four years in prison.

The casket of Jeanelyn Villavende, the household service worker killed in Kuwait, arrives at the house of her grandmother in Barangay Tinago, Norala, South Cotabato on January 10, 2020. MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Moises Villavende, the uncle of Jeanelyn and former barangay captain of Tinago in Norala, South Cotabato, where the Villavende family takes root, said they are happy with the death sentence handed to the female employer.

“Patas na sila ni Jeanelyn (She will suffer the same fate of Jeanelyn),” Moises told MindaNews on the phone.

But Moises said that “a complete justice” could have been rendered for Jeanelyn had the male employer been handed down also the death sentence.

“She was raped based on the autopsy (of our authorities),” said the uncle, who is the eldest of the 13 Villavende siblings.

According to Moises, the male employer is allegedly a police officer and could have “connections that led to his softer sentence.”

In a statement, the Philippine embassy in Kuwait said the Kuwaiti Court of First Instance handed the verdict on Wednesday, December 30.

Ms. Villavende’s case against her abusive employers stood on solid ground — born out of the swift and transparent investigation made by Kuwaiti authorities, and the strong evidence presented before the court against her killers, it said.

Jeanelyn, 26, left for the Gulf nation in mid-2019, in a bid to give her poor family a brighter future.

Earning a little over P20,000 as a household helper, Jeanelyn had managed to send only three times half of her salary back home.

It was her first —and the last— foreign deployment. She died in a hospital on December 28, 2019, according to Kuwaiti authorities. The high school graduate’s remains arrived in her hometown on January 9, 2020.

According to an autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation, Jeanelyn was raped and brutally beaten to death in Kuwait.

The autopsy report conducted by Kuwaiti authorities did not indicate the OFW was raped, only that she died “due to acute failure of heart and respiration as a result of shock and multiple injuries in the vascular nervous system.”

Moises said that a P5 million blood money had been offered to the family of the slain OFW to settle the case, but Jeanelyn’s father, Abelardo, rejected it.

“We want the death sentence for her employers,” Abelardo repeatedly said in January 2020.

Jeanelyn’s family already reacquired the three-fourth hectare farm that was mortgaged for P350,000, including the interest, and has built a concrete house and established a sari-sari store out of the financial assistance that poured for the murdered OFW, Moises said.

Her family received at least P900,000 from the Overseas Welfare Workers Administration and another P200,000 from the Department of Foreign Affairs, or a total of P1.1 million, plus financial assistance from various individuals. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)