Press Release
January 3, 2021

'Justice must be served': Bong Go welcomes Kuwaiti court's decision on OFW's murder case; presses for establishment of DOFil to better protect rights of Filipinos overseas

A Kuwaiti criminal court on Wednesday, December 30, sentenced to death by hanging a Kuwaiti woman for killing Filipina domestic worker Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende in December 2019. The husband was sentenced to four years in prison for covering up and not reporting the crime.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go has welcomed the Kuwait court's ruling, saying that justice must be served for Villavende.

"Alam mo, ako po'y nagagalak dahil nabigyan na po ng hustisya na matagal na nating inaasam," Go said during a radio interview on Thursday, December 31.

"Pero hindi na po maibabalik ang buhay ng ating kapwa Pilipino na si Villavende. So, nakakalungkot man po, dapat noon pa 'yan eh," he added.

The murder of Villavende prompted the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in January to approve a resolution imposing total deployment ban to Kuwait. This comes after it was found in the autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation that she was sexually abused and tortured.

The NBI also reported that Villavende's brain, heart, and some internal organs were missing. She also incurred multiple traumatic injuries, including to the genitalia, which indicates that she was sexually abused.

Go, earlier, has expressed strong condemnation over the violent killing of the OFW in the hands of her Kuwaiti employer.

"Kinokondena ko 'yung pagpatay kay Jeanelyn at 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.

"Masakit na iniiwan ng mga kababayan natin ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay upang makapagtrabaho lang sa mga malalayong lugar at mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang pamilya. Mas masakit malaman na sa kabila ng kanilang sakripisyo, sila ay patuloy na naaabuso at minsan namamatay pa," Go added.

Citing Villavende's case, Go mentioned the pressing need for a separate department for overseas Filipinos which aims to put together concerned government agencies dealing with the overseas Filipinos under one umbrella.

If passed into law, Go said that it will help in curbing issues and inconveniences experienced by overseas Filipinos and will also provide better protection for them as 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 ten percent of our population who reside abroad," reasoned the Senator.

"Kung in distress ang isang Pilipino abroad, kadalasan, hindi alam kung saan lalapit para humingi ng tulong. Minsan sa radyo, meron sa Facebook. Pero kung merong one country-team approach tayo, alam ng mga kababayan nating humihingi ng tulong kung saan pupunta. Hindi na sila mahihirapan pa," he said.

Go has also been instrumental in the repatriation recently of overseas Filipino worker Malik S. Darimbang who had been stuck in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for six years after he got involved in a road accident which led to the death of a Pakistani national.

Go also played a role in the subsequent granting of pardon to Roderick Aguinaldo, an overseas Filipino worker detained in Bahrain for four years after he was convicted for the death of a foreign national in the country. Aguinaldo was sentenced to death penalty until his pardon and release from prison as a result of the efforts of the Philippine government.

He also assisted in bringing back home in 2019 several OFWs from Kuwait who were victimized by a Filipino illegal recruiter and were forced to engage in sexual services.

"Sila po ang tinuturing nating mga bagong bayani na naghihirap para lang mabigyan ng mas magandang buhay ang kanilang pamilya at makatulong sa bansa. Huwag natin sila pabayaan. Gawin natin ang lahat para maisaayos ang serbisyo na dapat nilang nakukuha mula sa gobyerno," he said.

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