Photo of Jeanalyn Villavende from her Facebook page.

KUWAIT: The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday summoned the Kuwaiti ambassador in Manila to strongly condemn the killing of another Filipina domestic worker in Kuwait. On Sunday, police received a report from Sabah Hospital concerning the arrival of a deceased Filipina housemaid with bruises on various parts of her body. The maid, identified as Jeanalyn Villavende, had arrived in Kuwait on May 5, 2019.

The DFA said continuing incidents of violence and abuse of Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait violates the spirit of the agreement signed in May 2018 that seeks to promote and protect their welfare. The DFA summoned the Kuwaiti ambassador to express the government’s outrage over the lack of protection of domestic workers at the hands of their employers, press for complete transparency in the investigation of the case and call for the swift prosecution of the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait still hasn’t issued any official statement on the death of Villavende, but an embassy official told Kuwait Times on the condition of anonymity that the mission is in close contact with Kuwaiti authorities to ensure justice will be served. The official added only charge de affairs Noordin Lomondot can talk about this issue. “The moment we get all the facts and information, the charge de affairs will talk to the media,” the source said.

The maid’s sponsor, who had taken her to hospital, admitted during interrogations on Sunday that his wife had beaten Villavende until she fainted, adding he was shocked when he realized at the hospital that she had died. The sponsor was detained and his wife was summoned. She admitted to beating the maid but said she had not intended to kill her.

Detectives and forensic experts rushed to the sponsor’s house in Sulaibikhat to examine the crime scene, where they found traces of blood that had been cleaned and evidence that Villavende had been brutally beaten. A case was filed and further investigations are still in progress.

Increasing incidents of abuse against Filipino domestic helpers, resulting in the death of some, prompted the Philippine government in 2018 to impose a deployment ban, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries and the expulsion of the Philippine ambassador. The ban was lifted after a labor pact was signed in May last year.

By Ben Garcia