President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday vowed to extend all possible assistance to the family of Jullebee Ranara, the 35-year-old household worker whose burnt body was found in a desert in Kuwait a week ago.
“I just wanted to offer my sympathies to the family and to assure them that all the assistance that they might need… for the family and for whatever else, that is my promise to them. Their child made that sacrifice to work abroad because she has dreams for her family here,” the President said as he visited the wake of Ranara in Las Piñas City Monday afternoon.
“I told them that now that your child is gone, we will try to fulfill your dreams. All the assistance that we can give, we will give,” he added.
The President said the Philippine government is scheduling bilateral meetings with Kuwait to review the Bilateral Labor Agreement (BLA) to further protect overseas Filipino workers following the killing of Ranara, allegedly by her employer’s son.
“We are also scheduling bilateral meetings with Kuwait to look at the agreement that we have to see if there are any weaknesses in the agreement that allowed this to happen and to make sure that those weaknesses are remedied so that the agreement is stronger and… will be more supportive of our workers,” the President said.
Mr. Marcos was joined by Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, Senator Mark Villar, and Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar, among others.
DMW Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac earlier said the National Bureau of Investigation would conduct an autopsy on Ranara’s remains.
According to the autopsy reported by Kuwaiti media, Ranara was pregnant when she was brutally tortured, then ran over by a vehicle and burnt in the desert.
Ranara’s remains arrived in Manila Friday night.
Meanwhile, the 17-year-old suspect is under police custody in Kuwait.
The Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs has condemned Ranara’s murder.
The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait said Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah had met with Chargé d’Affaires Jose Cabrera III and condoled with the victim’s family and the Philippine government over Ranara’s death.
“He condemned her murder and said that the perpetrator, who has been arrested and is currently in detention, will be punished for this heinous crime,” the embassy said in a statement.
Salem said the actions of the perpetrator “do not in any way reflect the character and values of Kuwaiti society, the Kuwaiti people, and the Kuwaiti government.”
For his part, Sen. Raffy Tulfo has filed Senate Resolution 448 to investigate the need for a partial or total deployment ban to Kuwait.
“We like to determine if the deployment ban will be partial or total… As a legislator, I can only recommend and investigate in aid of legislation,” said Tulfo, chairperson of the Senate committee on migrant workers.
He said the Executive will implement the ban.
“We’re thinking of different things. I’m thinking of a strong stand while they’re tame. We should not always think about money [remittances]. Let us think about the welfare of our OFWs,” he said.
Since 2016, Tulfo said at least 196 OFWs have died in Kuwait, with 80 percent succumbing to physical abuses.
In 2017, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait recorded 6,000 cases of abuses, sexual harassment, and rape, Tulfo said.