Philippines orders total deployment ban to Kuwait

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government imposed a total deployment ban to Kuwait after a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) autposy revealed the grim circumstances surrounding the death of Filipino worker Jeanelyn Villavende in the Gulf state in December 2019.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced this on Wednesday, January 15, after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) approved a resolution effecting a deployment ban that would cover all newly hired workers who were supposed to go to Kuwait for work.  

Who will the ban cover? The DOLE said that the total deployment ban would cover all newly hired workers – domestic workers, skilled workers, and professionals.

A partial deployment ban had been in place since January 3, a move that covered first time household service workers with overseas employment certificates issued after 5 pm on January 3.

Why is there a ban? The ban comes after an NBI autopsy revealed that Villavende, 26, was raped before her employers beat her to death  in Kuwait. The autopsy also showed that she had suffered from past physical abuse before her death in December. 

The earlier autopsy report of the Kuwaiti government of Kuwait did not mention rape nor indications of past abuse, but Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra noted that both the Philippine and Kuwaiti reports pointed to the same cause of death, which was "trauma due to the infliction of injuries to the body."

DOLE earlier said that Villavende had sought the help of her recruitment agency for repatriation. The recruitment agency faces the possible cancellation of its license for failing to act on Villavende's pleas for help. Kuwaiti authorities had also detained Villavende's employer.

Philippine authorities condemned Villavende's death, describing it as a "clear violation" of the agreement signed by Kuwait and the Philippines in 2018.

The agreement – which came at the end of a diplomatic crisis over the gruesome murder of Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis – sought to uphold the protection of the rights and welfare of Filipino workers in the Gulf state. – Rappler.com