MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is "outraged" by the death of Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Kuwait, Malacanang presidential palace said yesterday.

But while the president expressed anger over the latest incident, the possible imposition of a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to the Arab nation would still depend on the recommendation of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“The president is outraged by that violation of the agreement between these two countries. And the incident is under investigation. The secretary of labor has already executed a partial deployment (ban). Let’s see if it becomes full deployment ban,” Panelo said in a palace press briefing.

“That will depend on the endorsement or the recommendation of Secretary Bello,” he added, when asked if the Philippine government would again enforce a total deployment ban to Kuwait in the future.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday, Bello said he will issue an order anytime soon for a partial deployment ban to Kuwait, following the death of Villavende, a Filipino household worker killed by her Kuwaiti employer’s wife.

Villavende’s death came even after the Philippines and Kuwait signed on May 11, 2018 a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that aims to put an end to inhumane treatment committed against OFWs by their Kuwaiti employers.

The killing of Villavende has renewed calls for the Duterte government to bar Filipinos from seeking jobs in Kuwait.

Bello floated the possibility of completely stopping the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait in case justice is not served for Villavende.

“We will not deploy new workers… in the meantime, we will only allow the deployment of returning workers and skilled workers,” the labor chief said.

In February 2018, the Philippines implemented a total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait, in the wake of reports that OFWs in the Gulf nation have suffered abuses and even died at the hands of their employers.

The ban was lifted in May last year, following the signing of the MOA for the protection of OFWs in Kuwait.

Panelo admitted that the recent incident affected Manila’s ties with Kuwait City.

But despite the killing of another Filipino worker in Kuwait, the Philippines is not considering the possible cutting of ties with Kuwait, the palace official said. – Agencies