confidential funds

Huge confidential funds of top PH officials should go to OFW protection – rights group

Michelle Abad

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Huge confidential funds of top PH officials should go to OFW protection – rights group

CALLS FOR JUSTICE. Women's group Gabriela lead a candlelight protest calling for Justice for Jullebee Ranara, a Filipina migrant worker killed by her employer's son in Kuwait, at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City on January 27, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

OFW rights group Migrante International also says that the 15-year prison sentence to Jullebee Ranara's killer is an 'insult' to her family, OFWs, and Filipinos seeking justice for her

MANILA, Philippines – Amid developments in the murder case of slain overseas Filipino worker Jullebee Ranara, OFW rights group Migrante International called on the Philippine government to allot the proposed confidential funds of the country’s top officials for migrant workers’ protection.

Ranara’s killer was convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday, September 14. The accused was the son of Ranara’s employer, and was 17 at the time of the killing.

In light of Ranara’s case and the murders of at least three other Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait in recent years, Migrante called on the Philippine embassy in Kuwait to be “more alert and attentive” to distressed OFWs in the Gulf state, such as through the expansion of repatriation and other services.

“The huge confidential funds of top government officials like [President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.] and [Vice President] Sara Duterte should go to increasing and improving services for OFWs instead,” said Migrante.

In its proposed budget for 2024, the Office of the President asked for P4.56 billion in confidential and intelligence funds. Marcos also sought P50 million in confidential funds for the Department of Agriculture, which he leads in an interim capacity.

Duterte requested P500 million in confidential funds for the Office of the Vice President, and P150 million for the Department of Education, which she also leads.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is seeking P29.49 billion for its 2024 budget, but it has so far been given a proposed P15.54-billion budget in the National Expenditure Program, lower than its P15.8-billion allocation for 2023.

Senator Raffy Tulfo, who chairs the Senate migrant workers committee, suggested that the DMW should get millions in confidential funds as well to curb illegal recruitment. DMW officer-in-charge Hans Cacdac said he left it to the Senate’s discretion, but that more non-confidential funds for its bureau handling surveillance activities would be enough to make it more effective.

Seeking a heavier penalty

While Migrante welcomed the Kuwaiti court’s speedy resolution of the case, they said that the 15-year prison sentence is an “insult” to Ranara’s family, other OFWs, and all Filipinos seeking justice for her.

“A 15-year sentence for the murderer of Jullebee shows how little value is given to the life of a migrant worker, a young woman, a domestic worker and a Filipina who is also the breadwinner of her family. The Kuwaiti court should clearly send a message to abusive, violent, and murderous employers that foreign domestic workers’ lives matter,” the group said.

Migrante called on the Philippine government to push for a longer jail sentence for the murderer, and for compensation for Ranara’s family.

Ranara’s father, Romy Reyes, earlier said that he was “saddened” by the decision as the sentence was too light.

Ako ay nalulungkot sa nangyaring ganyan, na ang sentensiya, napakababa. Alam ‘nyo ho, napakasakit. ‘Di ko na kayang tanggapin,” Reyes said in a Radyo5 interview on Friday, September 15.

Ang inaano ko lang sana, mabigyan naman ng magandang hustisya ‘yung pagkamatay ng anak namin,” he added.

(I was saddened by what happened, that the sentence was so light. It is so painful. I can’t accept it. I just want proper justice for the death of our child.)

Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo de Vega said on Friday that it was not possible to move for a longer sentence, since 15 years is the maximum penalty that can be given under Kuwaiti law to a minor.

De Vega said it will be up to the DMW to decide on an appeal for a larger financial award for the bereaved family.

Push for better working, living conditions

Ranara’s case is reflective of the larger situation of many Filipino domestic workers who endure abusive working conditions in Kuwait.

Migrante resurfaced an old call to push for reforms in, if not the abolition of, the kafala system, which ties migrant workers’ visas to their employers, and allows the latter to heavily control their workers in various Gulf states, including Kuwait.

“The Philippine government should take serious measures to create decent jobs at home and not depend on foreign investors and countries to provide employment to Filipinos,” said Migrante.

Must Read

The cost of economic strategy: PH labor export and the case of Jullebee Ranara

The cost of economic strategy: PH labor export and the case of Jullebee Ranara

A Social Weather Stations survey conducted in December 2022 found that one in five Filipinos aspired to live in a different country. A separate SWS survey conducted in March 2023 found a majority or 69% of Filipino adults saying they had difficulty finding a job. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Clothing, Apparel, Person


Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.