Duterte wants death penalty for OFW Villavende’s killers

Sofia Tomacruz
Duterte wants death penalty for OFW Villavende’s killers

Albert Alcain

President Rodrigo Duterte says his 'heart bleeds' for overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte demanded the death penalty for those behind the murder of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jeanelyn Villavende, who allegedly died in the hands of her employers.

Duterte made the statement in a late-night press conference on Monday, March 9, saying he would go to Kuwait as his “heart bleeds” when talking about Filipino workers in the Middle East. 

“If they can follow it through in accordance with their laws…I will ask for the maximum [penalty]. I want their executioner to cut off the heads of those who are responsible for the death of the Filipina,” Duterte said.

Villavende’s employers have since been detained and charged with murder.

In a hearing of the House committee on overseas workers’ affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Sarah Arriola said a hearing for Villavende’s case is scheduled in Kuwait on March 24.

Arriola said the DFA had plans to fly Villavende’s father to Kuwait for the hearing, but this will no longer push through due to travel restrictions put in place by the Gulf state amid the novel coronavirus crisis.

She gave assurances the DFA would support Villavende’s family through the trial, adding that the Philippine embassy is translating important documents for the case from Arabic to English.

Villavende was found to have been sexually abused and battered before she was beaten to death in December 2019. Her case prompted the Philippines to impose a total ban on deployment to Kuwait. The ban was lifted last February 14.

Philippine authorities earlier condemned Villavende’s murder, describing it as a “clear violation” of the agreement signed by the Philippines and Kuwait in 2018.

The agreement, which came at the end of a diplomatic crisis over the gruesome murder of OFW Joanna Demafelis, seeks to uphold the protection of the rights and welfare of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

Around 248,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, with more than half being female domestic workers. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.