Filipino on Kuwait death row gets Amiri pardon, flies home to PH

Marje Pelayo   •   September 14, 2020   •   737

MANILA, Philippines — The government of Kuwait has granted clemency to overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Bienvenido Espino after serving 13 years in jail on death row for the murder of his Filipina partner in 2008.

According to Philippine Embassy in Kuwait Charge D’affaires and Consul General Pendosina Lomondot, Espino was pardoned by the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah during the recently concluded Eid season, along with other Filipino detainees at Sulaibiya Central Jail.

“On behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, my deepest and most profound gratitude goes to His Highness The Amir for granting clemency to OFW Bienvenido Espino, and for giving our kababayan a chance to start a new life in the Philippines,” Chargé d’Affaires Lomondot said.

In May 2008, the Kuwaiti Court of First Instance found Espino guilty of murdering his Filipina partner in October 2007, and sentenced him to death by hanging. 

The said decision was upheld by the Kuwaiti Court of Appeals in January 2009, and by the Kuwait Court of Cassation in November 2009.

However, Espino received a tanazul or letter of forgiveness from the family of his late Filipina partner after settling the blood money for the crime. 

The issuance of a tanazul led to the commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment in 2013. 

Lomondot said Espino’s case had been under negotiation since the administrations of Presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno S. Aquino III.  

The embassy official sent off Espino at the Kuwait International Airport on August 30 along with other Filipinos who availed the repatriation flight arranged by the Philippine government for OFWs who wish to return home due to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

PH to scale down deployment of workers to Kuwait

Robie de Guzman   •   March 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday said it is scaling down the deployment of workers to Kuwait over its new requirement for returning expatriates from the Philippines and nine other nations to present proof they are not infected with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said scaling down of deployment means that the government will slow down the issuance of overseas employment certificates (OEC) by delaying its processing for one month.

An OEC is an exit clearance for departing Filipino migrant workers.

“It’s not a retaliatory order, it’s a practical order. They are requiring so many requirements for our workers, that’s giving more burden to our workers. In order to prevent our workers from going there, they might as well go to other countries,” Bello told reporters in a briefing.

He, however, said he has spoken with the Department of Foreign Affairs to work out an arrangement with Kuwaiti authorities to honor medical certificates issued by Department of Health-run hospitals and local health centers, which are issued for free.

Kuwait, which reported 56 confirmed coronavirus infections, announced on Wednesday that expatriates from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Syria, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Georgia and Lebanon.

READ: Expats from Philippines, 9 other countries returning to Kuwait to face new protocol amid COVID-19 spread

The new travel protocol, which will take effect on March 8, requires expatriates to undergo medical examination and present certificates that confirms they are not infected with the virus before entering the Gulf state.

These certificates must be issued by health centers approved by the Embassy of State of Kuwait. If there is no Kuwaiti embassy in these countries, they must be certified by the health authorities operating in the said countries.

Expatriates failing to comply with the new protocol will be denied entry to Kuwait and deported to their country of origin “without the State bearing any financial costs” through the same carrier.

The airline company will also be fined for violating the order.

The country’s partial deployment ban to Kuwait remains in place, only allowing semi-skilled, skilled, and professional workers to return to their employers. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Expats from Philippines, 9 other countries returning to Kuwait to face new protocol amid COVID-19 spread

Robie de Guzman   •   March 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Expatriates returning to Kuwait after visiting the Philippines and nine other countries will soon be required to undergo a medical examination and present proof that they are free from novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a state authority announced.

In an advisory posted on Wednesday, the Director General of Civil Aviation announced the new travel protocol which covers all expatriates coming from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Syria, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Georgia and Lebanon.

The new travel protocol, which will take effect on March 8, requires expatriates to undergo medical examination and present certificates that confirms they are not infected with the virus before entering the Gulf state.

These certificates must be issued by health centers approved by the Embassy of State of Kuwait.  

“If there is no Kuwaiti embassy in these countries, they must be certified by the health authorities operating in the said countries,” the official added.

Expatriates who will fail to comply with the new protocol will be denied entry to Kuwait and deported to their country of origin “without the State bearing any financial costs” through the same carrier.

The airline company will also be fined for violating the order.

Kuwaiti citizens, meanwhile, are excluded from the procedure because they will be examined at the Kuwait International Airport.

The Kuwaiti government already suspended flights to and from Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Italy and Iraq due to the rising number of COVID-19 infections worldwide.

An entry ban has also been enforced for those who travelled from South Korea, Iraq, Thailand and Italy in the past two weeks.

Kuwait has reported 56 confirmed coronavirus cases as of March 4.

DOLE eyes partial lifting of deployment ban to Kuwait

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 6, 2020

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is eyeing to implement a partial lifting of the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait.

In a statement, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he will recommend the partial lifting of the ban to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board.

This was after the Kuwaiti government agreed to sign an agreement on the standard employment contract for Filipino household service workers.

“I had a fruitful meeting with my counterparts in Kuwait. Both sides agreed on the harmonized standard employment contract. I will talk with the POEA governing board to recommend the partial lifting of the ban,” he said.

The partial lifting will allow skilled, semi-skilled and professional workers to be deployed to Kuwait. Household service workers are still covered by the prohibition.

Meanwhile, balik-manggagawa workers category will be the subject of discussion and decision of the POEA governing board.

Bello added that a total lifting of the ban will only be implemented if the Kuwaiti government will provide an official status report on the cases of Jeanelyn Villavende, Constancia Dayag, Joanna Demafelis, and on the Filipina who was raped upon arriving at the airport.

“In the case of Villavende, I wanted some validation of their claim that they [accused employers] are formally charged and they are behind bars. We have to be contented who have been charged and what are the nature of the charges,” he said.—AAC

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