By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: A death verdict by hanging was handed by the criminal court yesterday to a Kuwaiti woman who tortured to death her Filipino housemaid, Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, on Dec 28, 2019. The woman’s husband was sentenced to four years in jail for covering up and not reporting the crime.
The Philippine Embassy’s lead counsel, Attorney Sheikha Fawzia Al-Sabah, said the court’s ruling was fair and in compliance with the law and sharia. Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Mohd Noordin Pendosina Lomondot thanked the lawyer who represented the Philippine government and the victim. He also thanked the Kuwaiti government for the favorable ruling.
“May the court’s decision on the Villavende murder case serve as a reminder to everyone that no Filipino is a slave to anyone, anywhere and everywhere, and that justice will always come to the defense of the weak and the oppressed,” a statement by the Philippine Embassy said. Villavende’s death certificate from Sabah Hospital said she died due to “acute failure of the heart and respiration as a result of shock and multiple injuries to the vascular nervous system”.
On Jan 3, 2020, the Philippines implemented a ban on sending domestic workers to Kuwait following the death of Villavende. The ban was lifted a month later after consultations with the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the filing of appropriate charges against the perpetrators and after Manila and Kuwait City agreed the full implementation of a harmonized employment contract for Filipino domestic workers.
The agreement signed includes prohibiting employers from confiscating the passports of their housemaids. Domestic helpers also have the right to own a phone, work not more than 12 hours a day, and get enough rest and a weekly day off. They are also prevented from being transferred to other employers without written consent from the worker. There are 230,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, of which 160,000 are engaged in domestic work.