Kuwaiti Court | Photo credit dbaustralia.com.au
MANILA — The Kuwaiti Court of First Instance on December 30 has sentenced to death by hanging a Kuwaiti woman for the end of Filipina domestic worker Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende on December 29, 2019. The court also sentenced the husband to four years in prison to cover up and not report the crime.
A local autopsy report showed she was tortured and sexually abused while in the Gulf state. Similarly, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) autopsy reports the same findings. Also, the NBI said that Villavende’s brain, heart, and some internal organs were missing. She also incurred multiple traumatic injuries, including in the genitalia, which indicates sexual abuse.
Her death sparked outrage in the country that prompted the government’s Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to impose a deployment ban to Kuwait for a month.
President Duterte has denounced the killing of Villavende and called for the maximum penalty for the perpetrators of the crime. Duterte, in March 2020, said he wanted the executioner “to cut off the hands” of those responsible for Villavende’s death.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the lawyer engaged by the Philippine embassy in Kuwait, Sheikha Fawziya Al Sabah, described the Court of First Instance decision as fair and under the law and Sharia.
Locsin also relayed the country’s “eternal” gratitude to the Kuwaiti ambassador to the country. “To my brother, the Kuwait Ambassador to the PH, I owe you a debt of blood gratitude. My thanks and that of my nation and people is eternal,” he said.
In Kuwait, the Philippine Embassy welcomed the decision that found Villavende’s employers guilty of killing their house help.
“Ms. Villavende’s case against her abusive employers stood on solid ground – born out of the swift and transparent investigation made by Kuwait authorities, and the strong evidence presented before the court against her killers,” the embassy said in a statement.
Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Mohd Noordin Pendosina Lomondot expressed his gratitude to lawyer Al Sabah for her handling of the murder case.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go also expressed strong condemnation over the violent killing of Villvende in her Kuwaiti employer’s hands.
“Kinokondena ko ‘yung pagpatay kay Jeanelyn at (We condemned the killing of Jeanelyn and) despite the May 2018 agreement between the Philippines and Kuwaiti government, there are still reports of violence and abuses committed against our fellow Filipinos in Kuwait,” Go added.
Go cited Villavende’s case to press the need for a separate department for overseas Filipinos, which aims to put together concerning government agencies dealing with the overseas Filipinos under one umbrella.
If passed into law, Go said it would help curb issues and inconveniences experienced by overseas Filipinos and provide better protection. It will promote streamlined coordination among various officials and offices based abroad through the one country-team approach.
“[It is] about time that we create a Cabinet-level, secretary-led department with an organization structured to work together as one team to protect the rights and advance the interests and welfare of about 10 percent of our population who reside abroad,” Go said.
He said distressed overseas Filipinos usually get help through media interviews or Facebook.
Go was instrumental in the recent repatriation of overseas Filipino worker Malik S. Darimbang stuck in Saudi Arabia for six years after his involvement in a road accident that led to a Pakistani national death.
He also played a role in the subsequent granting of pardon to overseas Filipino worker Roderick Aguinaldo, detained in Bahrain for four years after his conviction for a foreign national’s death. Aguinaldo was sentenced to death until his pardon and released from prison due to the Philippine government’s efforts.
He also helped bring back home in 2019 several OFWs from Kuwait victimized by a Filipino illegal recruiter and forced to engage in sexual services.