MANILA -- (UPDATE) Malacañang on Wednesday condemned the death of a Filipina domestic worker in the hands of her employer’s wife in Kuwait.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo described Jeanelyn Villavende's death as a clear disregard of the agreement signed by both nations in 2018, which seeks to provide better protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Gulf state.
"We condole with the members of the family and loved ones of Jeanelyn," he said in a statement.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is closely monitoring the case while the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) is working the repatriation of the victim's remains, Panelo said.
Villavende hailed from Norala, South Cotabato.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), meanwhile, has been directed to provide burial and livelihood assistance, as well as scholarship to the family members of the victim.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said he was mulling the possibility of enforcing another deployment ban to Kuwait following Villavende's death.
"I'm ready to do that. Ngayon, this is another possibility na hindi remote na magde-deployment ban din kami sa Kuwait unless they can show us na mabigyan ng katarungan ang ating kababayan na si Jeanelyn," said Bello in an interview on DZMM.
An early report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait indicated that Villavende was "maltreated" by her employer, he added.
Villavende's employer is now detained with Kuwaiti authorities.
In response to the tragic incident, Sen. Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, said he would prioritize a bill that seeks to expand the use of legal assistance fund for OFWs.
"The fund will be able to help our abused and maltreated OFWs seek justice like our kababayan who died in the hands of her employer in Kuwait just before the New Year," he said in statement released Wednesday.
"We feel that this urgent measure will be a fitting New Year’s gift to our hardworking OFWs who risk their lives and limbs just to give their families in the Philippines better lives," Villanueva added.
The Philippine government banned the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait in 2018 following reported deaths of Filipino workers, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer.—With reports from Arianne Merez and Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News