Kuwait is reportedly outraged by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s remarks demanding that the Kuwaiti employers of Filipino domestic Jeanelyn Villavende pay with their lives for her death and months of abuse.
The offending statement came from Locsin’s Twitter account.
“THERE WILL BE BLOOD @DFAPHL for Jeanelyn Villavende. I renounce & reject any offer of blood money for her torture/murder. I want two lives for the life they took,” Locsin’s post read.
His post came as Villavende’s family in Norala, South Cotabato, said they rejected an offer of P59 million to settle the case.
The Al Rai newspaper, known for generally supporting the Kuwaiti government and the ruling family, reported shortly afterward that an unnamed foreign ministry official denounced Locsin’s statement, calling it “a transgression on the powers of the security and judicial authorities in the country.”
The source added that Locsin’s remarks contradict the “simplest rules of international relations” and seek to influence ongoing investigations into the case.
The Kuwaiti anger seems to be misplaced—given the pitiful fate Villavende suffered at the hands of her abusive Kuwaiti employers.
Those employers were arrested last month after Villavende’s suspicious death last month.
An official Philippine autopsy—in contrast to the sparse Kuwaiti official report—found that the house maid had been sexually abused before she was beaten to death.
Kuwait’s assurances that it will punish the guilty “in accordance with the provisions of the country’s laws and in a manner that guarantees the rule of law and justice for all” inspires little confidence, given its poor track record in protecting Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
Villavende was beaten “black and blue” and died in December 2019, but she is not the first to die at the hands of an abusive employer in Kuwait.
In February 2018, the Philippines imposed a total deployment ban on Kuwait after the body of Joanna Demafelis was found inside a freezer. She had been killed by her employers.
The ban was lifted three months later, in May 2018, after Manila and Kuwait signed an agreement on the protection of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
Not all the provisions of that agreement, however, have been met—casting doubts on the credibility of Kuwait promises.
Almost two years since the agreement was signed, it has become woefully apparent that the deal did nothing to keep Villavende safe—and alive.
The recent offer of a staggering amount of money to Villavende’s family also suggests that when all else fails, abusive employers can always try to buy their way out of punishment, even for murder.
In the wake of all this, Manila has imposed a temporary deployment ban of Filipino domestics to Kuwait. For the safety of all Filipino domestics, that ban needs to be made permanent.