Murdered OFW in Kuwait sought help from agency months before her death – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020   •   557

MANILA, Philippines – The recruitment agency that deployed Jeanelyn Villavende to Kuwait is facing possible cancellation of its license over the death of the Filipino household worker, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

In a statement on Thursday, Bello said they will ask Villavende’s agency to explain its inaction on the OFW’s repeated requests for repatriation months before her death.

“As early as September, she already complained about maltreatment and underpayment of salary. She also repeatedly requested the agency for repatriation, but they did not do anything,” he said.

Preliminary reports submitted by Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait revealed that Villavende was beaten to death, purportedly by her employer, and was already dead when brought to a hospital. Attending nurses reported that she was ‘black and blue.’

The exact date of Villavende’s death is yet to be determined after the autopsy.

The report said Villavende’s family was last able to talk to her in October. They again tried to contact her on December 13, but it was her female employer who who answered the call and told them that Villavende was “busy.”

The Kuwaiti employer has since been detained by authorities.

According to Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, death and burial benefits will be extended to the OFW, while her family will receive livelihood assistance and educational scholarship for her youngest sibling.

Cacdac recently went to Norala in South Cotabato to condole with Villavende’s family and extend government assistance.

Villavende’s death has prompted the Philippine government to impose fresh partial deployment ban to Kuwait.

Bello said the ban will only cover first time workers who will serve as household service workers to Kuwait, and excludes skilled and vacationing workers.

“This should serve as a clear message to Kuwaiti authorities. The partial ban may ripen into total deployment ban if justice for Jeanelyn Villavende is not met,” he said.

In 2018, the Philippines and Kuwait signed a labor pact seeking to protect Filipino workers from abuses. This was after the Philippines implemented a deployment ban following the killing of Joanna Demafelis.

Demafelis’ remains were discovered inside a freezer where she was believed to have been kept for more than a year after she was reported missing in 2016.

Her employers, believed to have fled Kuwait a year before her frozen body was found, were later arrested in Syria and convicted for murder charges.

DOLE assures job security for Filipino crew in cruise ship

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 18, 2020

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has assured job security for the Filipino crew in the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess.

DOLE Usec. Ana Dione. said the labor attache of the Philippines in Japan is already coordinating with the Japanese company that owns the Diamond Princess for the job security of the repatriated Filipino crew.

“Tutulong and DOLE diyan through our POLO [Philippine Overseas Labor Office] offices na i-secure iyong kanilang trabaho, now kung mag-desisyon sila kung babalik o hindi nasa kanila na iyon (DOLE will help through our POLO offices in securing their jobs. Now, it is their decision if they wish to return or not),” she said.

After the 14-day quarantine on Wednesday (February 19), the DOLE said they are prepared to repatriate the over 500 Filipino crew and passengers.

“Exact date ay hindi natin iyan kayang sabihin sa ngayon, (we cannot say the exact date as of now) but we are hoping that within this month,” according to Dione.

The repatriated Filipinos will also undergo the 14-day quarantine period, based on the protocol of the Department of Health (DOH).—AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

DOLE urges DOH to lift travel ban to Taiwan

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday said it has requested the Department of Health (DOH) to lift the travel ban for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to Taiwan amid the threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he has coordinated with the DOH for his request to review its decision and lift the temporary travel ban soon.

“For those who are affected by the travel ban in Taiwan, we ask for your patience and in a few days, there will be a review. While waiting for the lifting of the ban, we are providing financial assistance,” Bello said.

The labor chief assured that stranded overseas workers who are members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will receive P10,000 financial assistance amid the crisis.

Affected OFWs will also be provided with accommodation, food and transportation assistance.

Bello asked stranded OFWs to wait for the result of the assessment for the next three to five days.

“We are seeking understanding from our OFWs because the implementation of a temporary ban by the DOH is for your own safety as well,” he said.

“We hope for a possible lifting of the ban in a few days,” he added.

The Philippine government earlier imposed a travel ban on China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. It later expanded the travel restrictions to include Taiwan.

The Taiwanese government questioned the Philippines’ move and reportedly warned to impose countermeasures should the latter keeps the entry ban.

Dubai denies report that Filipino worker died of coronavirus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 7, 2020

The Dubai Media Office has denied claims made by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III that a Filipina had died due to coronavirus.

The media office said overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Amalia Collado Daproza died of pneumonia and had tested negative for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

They also reiterated that there are no cases of death due to coronavirus in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Bello already apologized to the government of Dubai for the confusion.

In a statement, the Labor Secretary clarified that the death of Daproza at Al Zahra Hospital in the UAE was not a case of nCoV as earlier reported.

“Based on a belated report received by the office of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III from the Philippine Labor Office in Dubai, results of confirmatory tests conducted by the Pathology and Genetics Department of the Dubai Health Authority on Daproza’s specimen yielded negative of the novel corona virus,” the statement reads.—AAC

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