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Sun 26 Jan 2020 06:09 PM

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Philippines rejects blood money in row over maid beaten to death in Kuwait

The case has provoked outrage in The Philippines and resulted in the government imposing a total ban on citizens being sent to Kuwait to work

Philippines rejects blood money in row over maid beaten to death in Kuwait
Philippines' Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin speaks during an event at the 52nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok on July 31, 2019. Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has rejected an offer of blood money from the Kuwaiti employers of a Filipina worker who was sexually abused and beaten to death in the Gulf state/

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) carried out an autopsy on the body of Jeanelyn Villavende, a maid who lived in Kuwait, and found she had been beaten to death by her Kuwait employer and also showed sign of sexual abuse, the state-backed Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported last week.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Locsin said the Manila government has rejected any offer of blood money and was pursuing legal action against the Kuwait employers.

"I renounce and reject any offer of blood money for her (Villavende) torture/murder. I want two lives for the life they took," Locsin said in a tweet.

Kuwait responds

On Saturday, the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported that an official source from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Locsin’s remark “contained an unacceptable transgression against jurisdictions of Kuwaiti security and judicial authorities,” and said his words were an “unusual approach in dealing with countries”.

“The Filipino secretary’s remark represents an attempt to influence the ongoing investigations. Kuwait is known for its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all who live on its soil and punishing law violators in accordance with the provisions of the country’s laws and in a manner that guarantees the rule of law and justice for all,” the government source was quoted as saying by KUNA.

In a Twitter response on Sunday, Locsin said he was “NOT INTERESTED IN TALKING ABOUT LABOR STANDARDS. I WON'T TRADE A LIFE FOR A STANDARD”.

Manila outrage

The Villavende case has provoked outrage in The Philippines and resulted in the government imposing a total ban on citizens being sent to Kuwait to work.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued a statement that from January 16 they were “imposing a total ban on the processing and deployment of domestic workers or household service workers, semi-skilled workers and professionals, including crew changes and shore leaves of Filipino seafarers in Kuwait”.

There are currently around 200,000 Filipinos living in Kuwait.

Kuwait and the Philippines in May 2018 signed an agreement to regulate domestic workers, after a dispute between the two countries led to a ban on Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

In February 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a partial ban on workers travelling to Kuwait after a Filipina maid was murdered and her body found in a freezer.

Kuwaiti recruitment firms last week also said they are struggling to find domestic helpers after recruitment from the Philippines was suspended earlier this year.

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