MANILA — A"cover-up" in the death of a Filipina maid allegedly at the hands of her employers in Kuwait prompted the Philippine government to ban the deployment of workers there, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said Thursday.
Kuwaiti forensic doctors said in an autopsy report that Jeanelyn Villavende succumbed to physical injuries, without mentioning that she was possibly raped, said Bello.
"Kaya kami nagdeklara ng total deployment ban ay hindi lamang doon sa paggagahasa — iyong cover-up e," he told radio DZMM.
(We declared a total deployment ban not just because of the rape, but because of the cover-up.)
One of Villavende's employers works for the interior ministry, Bello said. The official has yet to get a copy of the suspect's charge sheet, he said.
Professional and skilled workers who are already in Kuwait or on vacation in the Philippines are exempted from the deployment ban announced Wednesday, said Bello.
The ban will stay until Villavende gets justice and Kuwait agrees with a template employment contract that ensures the safety of Filipino workers, he said.
Kuwait hosts some 262,000 Filipinos, nearly 60 percent of whom are domestic workers, whose remittances are a lifeline to the Philippine economy, according to the foreign ministry.
In 2018, the Philippines also temporarily stopped sending workers to Kuwait after a string of reported abuse and deaths of Filipino workers, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in her employer's freezer.
This led to the signing of an agreement on OFW protection between Kuwait and Manila.
In May last year, Malacañang called for a review of the pact following the death of another Filipina in Kuwait.