human rights

OFW rights group calls for justice for slain Filipina in Kuwait

Michelle Abad
OFW rights group calls for justice for slain Filipina in Kuwait

PERSONAL CONDOLENCES. Migrant Workers Secretary Susan 'Toots' Ople visits the family of Filipino domestic worker Jullebee Ranara. Kuwait media reported on January 22, 2023 that Ranara's burned remains were found in the desert.

Department of Migrant Workers

(1st UPDATE) The suspect behind Filipino domestic worker Jullebee Ranara's death is under Kuwaiti police custody, says Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople

MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) rights group Migrante Philippines on Tuesday, January 24, called for justice for the death of 35-year-old Jullebee Ranara, a Filipino domestic worker who was found dead in Kuwait.

Ranara’s burned remains were found in the desert, Kuwait media reported on Sunday, January 22. Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople told DZBB on Tuesday said that the suspect, the 17-year-old son of Ranara’s employer, was under Kuwaiti police custody.

Kasama ng lahat ng migrante, nakikiisa kami sa panawagan ng kanyang pamilya para sa katarungan (Together with all migrants, we are one in the Ranara family’s call for justice),” Migrante said.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Monday, January 23, condemned the “heinous” crime, and urged the Kuwaiti government to work on the early resolution of the case to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Ople also visited Ranara’s family to condole with them and offer all necessary support they needed.

FAMILY LEFT BEHIND. Migrant Workers Secretary Susan ‘Toots’ Ople visits the family of Filipino domestic worker Jullebee Ranara. Photo courtesy of the Department of Migrant Workers

In the DZBB interview, Ople said that Ranara had complained about her employer’s son. “‘Yun daw ‘yung malupit sa kanya. In fact, may isang time daw na parang binantaan daw ‘yung buhay niya (He was the one who was cruel to her. In fact, there was a time when he appeared to threaten her life),” said Ople.

As of Tuesday, the DMW is still awaiting the official police report. The department said it is in close coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Kuwaiti authorities.

The migrant workers chief said the Philippine government was looking into how the suspect’s being a minor will affect his liability.

‘Unchanging’ situation

Migrante said that Ranara’s death and her addition to the “thousands” of domestic workers who have been abused in Kuwait is “proof” of how modern slavery thrives in the country.

Sa nakalipas na mahigit anim na taon, hindi matigil ang karumal-dumal na pagpaslang sa ating mga kababayan. Walang nagbabago sa kanilang kalagayan kaya’t nasundan ng pagpatay kay Ranara ang sinapit ng mga pinaslang na domestic workers na sina Joanna Demafelis, Jeanelyn Villavende at marami pang iba,” said Migrante.

(In over the past six years, the heinous killings of our countrymen have not stopped. Their situation has not changed, which is why Ranara’s killing has followed those of other slain domestic workers such as Joanna Demafelis, Jeanelyn Villavende, and more.)

According to Migrante, there are some 400 abused OFWs who stay in Philippine government facilities in Kuwait, unable to go home.

Migrante said the Philippine government’s labor export program contributes to giving space for such abuses to happen.

Sa prayoritisasyon sa pagkuha ng maksimum na ganansya sa remittances, pagpapanatiling competitive sa mga OFW, at dereguladong patakaran sa deployment, integrado sa patakarang serbisyo ng gobyerno na tiisin ng mga domestic workers ang kanilang kalagayan, muli itong ipagkasundo kahit sa mga nang-aabusong amo at ipasa ang obligasyong serbisyo sa OFW o recruitment agency sa panahon ng mahigpit na pangangailangan,” the rights group said.

(With the prioritization of obtaining the maximum benefit in remittances, keeping OFWs competitive, and a deregulated deployment policy, it is integrated in the government’s service policy for domestic workers to endure their situation, tolerate even abusive employers, and pass on service obligations to the OFW or their recruitment agency in times of dire need.)

The rights group called for an end to the labor export program, and the creation of more livelihood in the Philippines.

Sa halip na ibenta ang mga manggagawa sa mga banyaga, kagyat na balangkasin dapat ng gobyerno ang sustenableng programa ng reintegrasyon sa mga OFW. Sa higpit ng pangangailangan sa guro, health at social workers, at iba pang propesyunal sa loob ng ating bayan, ang kailangan lamang gawin ng gobyerno ay likhain ang nakabubuhay na trabaho mula sa sarili nating bansa,” Migrante said.

(Instead of selling our workers to foreigners, the government should develop a sustainable reintegration program for OFWs. With the urgent need for teachers, health and social workers, and other professionals here in our country, the government only needs to create jobs at home.)

On Tuesday, Senator Risa Hontiveros also expressed sympathies for Ranara’s family, and condemned incidents of OFW abuse in the Middle East.

Nananawagan din ako sa DMW at sa iba pang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na tutukang mabuti ang kalagayan ng ating mga kababayan sa Kuwait habang sila’y nagtatrabaho pa doon, at lalo na kung, at huwag na sana pong madagdagan, may sinapit na ganitong… napakapait na kapalaran sa Kuwait po kung saan marami na palang naiulat ng kaso ng pang-aabuso at pang-mamaltrato,” she said.

(I am also calling on the DMW and other government agencies to focus on the situation of our countrymen in Kuwait while they still work there, especially [so that we can avoid] more incidents of OFWs facing this tragic fate in Kuwait, where there are many cases of abuse and maltreatment.)

Hontiveros said that it was “not enough” to just call for justice for Ranara. 

Ang tunay na hustisya ay kakabit ng ating masigasig na pagsiguro na mapo-protektahan ang ating mga kababayang nagtatrabaho malayo sa ating Inang Bayan (True justice comes with a zealous effort to make sure that our countrymen working away from the Motherland will be protected),” she said. 

The senator also mentioned the International Labor Organization fair recruitment guidelines, where governments bear responsibilities in taking care of their migrant workers. She said she hoped that OFW abuses like Ranara’s case can be included in the ongoing ILO High Level Tripartite Mission to the Philippines. – Rappler.com

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers overseas Filipinos, the rights of women and children, and local governments.