The remains of Jeanelyn Villavende, a Filipina domestic worker who was allegedly killed by her employer in Kuwait last month, arrived back in Manila at 4pm on Wednesday.
The body was received by her family at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. According to a statement released by Labor Secretary Silvestre Belo III, preliminary reports from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait said that Villavende was already dead when she was brought to the hospital late last month, and that nurses reported her body was “black and blue” when it arrived.
According to recent forensic findings relayed by Belo, Villavende’s cause of death was “acute failure of heart and respiratory as a result of shock and multiple injuries in the vascular system,” ABS-CBN News reports.
In its statement yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that it “has commissioned a top-notch criminal lawyer in Kuwait to pursue the case against the perpetrators and ensure that justice is served.”
“An eye for an eye, a life for a life,” the department said.
The DFA added that it has given Villavende’s family PHP100,000 (US$1,900) in financial assistance to help with funeral expenses, and said that it will continue to “provide legal and other appropriate assistance” until the perpetrators are punished.
The gruesome incident of Villavende’s death has led the Philippine government to impose a partial ban on deployment of migrant workers to the Gulf state. The ban was implemented by the Immigration Bureau yesterday, and will cover only newly hired workers, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
The government had previously imposed a deployment ban on domestic and skilled professionals to Kuwait in 2016 following the death of a domestic worker named Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found stuffed in a freezer. The ban was lifted in May 2018 after a memorandum was signed providing for the additional protection of Filipino workers.
In a statement released last week, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Villavende’s killing was a “clear disregard of the agreement signed by both our country and Kuwait in 2018 which seeks to uphold and promote the protection of the rights and welfare of our workers in Kuwait.”
According to Labor Secretary Belo, Villavende’s remains will be flown to General Santos City for another autopsy before being returned to her hometown in Nurala, South Cotabato.