Senators decry brutal slay of Pinay worker in Kuwait

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2023 08:10 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2023 10:37 PM

Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople vows justice for slain OFW Jullebee Ranaza as she consoles the mother of the murdered OFW. The 35-year old domestic worker was found dead Sunday in the desert, her body burned. Kuwaiti authorities have arrested the son of her employer. DMW handout photo
Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople vows justice for slain OFW Jullebee Ranaza as she consoles the mother of the murdered OFW. The 35-year old domestic worker was found dead Sunday in the desert, her body burned. Kuwaiti authorities have arrested the son of her employer. DMW handout photo

MANILA (UPDATED) -- Senators on Tuesday condemned the brutal killing of a Filipina worker in Kuwait whose body was found charred in a desert last Sunday.

In a privilege speech, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada detailed the violence that Jullebee Ranara, 35, went through, allegdly at the hands of her employer's teen son.

"What’s more harrowing in Ranara’s case is the report by the local news outlets in the state of Kuwait that the arrested perpetrator who confessed to the crime is a 17-year-old Kuwaiti national and the son of her employer who allegedly raped and impregnated her. The victim was beaten, ran over by the perpetrator’s car twice and was burnt and left for dead in the desert," Estrada narrated.

The senator said this was not the first time that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) experienced abuse in Kuwait. 

"Gustuhin man nating i-trato ito bilang isang isolated case, hindi natin maikakaila na ang Kuwait ay isa sa mga bansa na may mataas na kaso ng pang-aabuso at pagkamatay ng ating mga OFWs," he said.
 
The Philippine government, in several instances, had banned deployment of OFWs to Kuwait. 

The most recent ban was lifted in February 2020 when the Philippines and Kuwait agreed to put more safeguards for OFWs.

"What appears to be lacking though is a mechanism for monitoring the conditions of our OFWs and the screening of would-be employers to further assure our kababayans that they will not end up in the hands of exploitative and vicious individuals," Estrada said.

“Ako’y nanggigigil ako sa bansang Kuwait sapagka't sa dami kong nababalitaan, and it is also recorded, marami na po talagang pang-aabuso na ginagawa itong mga amo ng mga OFW. That’s why, I want to recommend to the Department of Migrant Workers to ban our OFWs from working in the state of Kuwait,” Estrada added.

Sen. Robin Padilla urged the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to act swiftly to seek justice for Ranara's killing.

Secretary Toots Ople earlier said the Philippines will seek "additional safeguards" instead of suspending the deployment of workers to Kuwait.

Sen. Raffy Tulfo meanwhile said the government needs to study the situation in Kuwait to know if Filipinos are safe to work there.

"Kailangan nating pag-aralan kung ano ang sitwasyon na kinakaharap ng mga kababayan natin na nadedeploy sa Kuwait. Ligtas pa ba sila doon? May suporta ba ng gobyerno ng Kuwait ang ating mga kababayan na pumupunta doon?" he asked.

For Sen. Risa Hontiveros, true justice would only be attained if the government can protect all its citizens who have chosen to work overseas.

"Binibigyang-diin ko rin po na hindi sapat ang paghingi nating ng hustisya para kay Jullebee. Ang tunay na hustisya ay kakabit ng ating masigasig na pagsiguro na mapo-protektahan ang ating mga kababayang nagtatrabaho malayo sa ating Inang Bayan," she said.

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda pressed for the immediate ratification of ILO Convention 190 which promotes fair recruitment.

“Balewala po ang ating mga salita at pagpirna kung hindi natin binibigyan ng ngipin ang mga ito... It’s frustrating,” Legarda lamented.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri called on the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) to finish preparing international treaties.

“The PLLO should double its work particularly on treaties particularly, ILO 190... This has to be referred to the proper committee so we can investigate further, why there’s a delay on this treaty,” Zubiri said.

There were some 1.8 million OFWs in 2021, according to government data. The money they send back home helps boost the economy. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said that one of his administration's priorities would be to "take care" of the Filipino migrant workers' children and families. 

--With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

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