Senate panel backs proposed permanent deployment ban of Filipino domestic workers to Kuwait

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2020 06:31 PM

MANILA - A Senate panel is likely to support proposals to permanently ban the deployment of Filipino domestic workers to Kuwait, citing the continuous inhumane treatment of household helpers in the Middle Eastern country, its chair said Tuesday.

"This time, I think, dapat itigil na natin yung pagpapadala ng household service workers sa mga bansa na gaya ng Kuwait," Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development chair Joel Villanueva said.

Villanueva issued the statement to reporters after Labor officials confirmed in a hearing that Filipina domestic worker Jeanelyn Villavende suffered severe wounds before her demise in late 2019.

"We've heard several times yung kinukulong sa kuwarto, kinukulong sa bahay... These are basic rights na dapat ine-enjoy ng ating mga kababayan... Hindi na bago ang mga kuwentong ganito. Ang nababago lang yung mga pangalan ng OFWs dito," Villanueva said.

An autopsy report submitted to the Senate committee showed that Villavende was hit with a flat iron on the head, stabbed on the back with a vehicle's key, and was sexually abused before she died.

Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III earlier pushed for a permanent OFW deployment ban to Kuwait after the latter's government gave the Philippines a "fake, dishonest" autopsy report that did not reflect Villavende's grave injuries.

Bello told senators he is set to travel to Kuwait next week to discuss with his counterparts how these labor issues could be addressed.

Should agencies from the executive branch decide against imposing the ban, Villanueva said: "It doesn't stop us from legislating. So, that's also an option."

There are some 262,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of whom are domestic workers, government data show.

The Senate panel will review a list of other countries where demand for Filipino domestic workers remain high, Villanueva said, conceding that most OFWs are not keen on finding jobs in the Philippines due to low salary.

"Let us analyze and evaluate countries na pinagpapadalhan natin ng household service workers, kasi ang Kuwait, kumbinsido na ako na hindi na dapat," he said.