Following the brutal killing of a 35-year-old overseas Filipino worker in Kuwait, Senator Bong Go is calling for a review of policies governing the deployment of overseas Filipino workers.
According to local Kuwaiti media, the burned body of Filipino domestic worker Jullebee Ranara was discovered in a desert in the country on January 22.
During an ambush interview after attending the groundbreaking of the Super Health Center in Kawit, Cavite recently, Go urged the recently established Department of Migrant Workers to closely monitor the developments on the case.
“Pag-aralang mabuti at nandidiyan naman po ang Department of Migrant Workers. Kaya nga po mayroon tayong DMW para sila po ang mangasiwa, mag-aasikaso tuwing may ganitong problema,” the legislator said.
The lawmaker was one of the authors and co-sponsors of the Senate version of Republic Act 11641 which created the DMW.
It is the consolidated version of an earlier measure the senator filed which sought to create the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, ensuring the efficient and effective delivery of key government services for Filipino migrant workers.
The law streamlined the organization and functions of all government agencies related to overseas employment and migration through the creation of the DMW.
Meanwhile, he recalled that this is not the first time a Filipina domestic worker was murdered in Kuwait.
In 2019, Filipino household service worker Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende was also murdered by her Kuwaiti employer.
In 2018, the body of another domestic worker, Joanna Demafelis, was discovered inside an abandoned warehouse.
A staunch supporter of migrant workers’ rights, Go expressed sadness and outrage over Ranara’s brutal murder, saying that justice must be served.
“Hindi po nababayaran ang lungkot.”
“Alam n’yo, hindi po nababayaran ang lungkot. Mas nanaisin nilang magtrabaho dito sa ating bansa. Ngunit kailangan nilang makipagsapalaran, magtrabaho sa ibang bansa para may maipadala sila rito sa kanilang pamilya at nakakatulong din po sa ating ekonomiya. Ngunit sila po ang nagiging biktima roon ng karahasan,” he stressed.
“Nasasaktan po ako. Pangalawang beses na po ito in three years na mayroon pong pinatay sa Kuwait. Dapat po panagutin ang dapat panagutin at tingnan nang mabuti ang kasunduan, tingnan nang mabuti rin kung sino ba ang employer, dumaan ba ito sa proseso, ‘yung pag-recruit ng mga kababayan natin,” Go added.
The son of Jullebee’s employer has already been arrested by Kuwaiti authorities, according to a statement from the DMW.
Go pointed out that in January 2020, in response to Villavende’s murder, then president Rodrigo Duterte issued a temporary ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait which was eventually lifted.
In 2018, Duterte also approved a ban on OFW deployment to Kuwait in response to the discovery of the body of Demafelis which had been in an abandoned warehouse since November 2016.
During these times, the Philippine government has offered voluntary repatriation to OFWs in Kuwait.
On May 11, 2018, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the Philippines and Kuwait. The labor pact was part of an effort to end the persistent human rights violations committed by Kuwaiti employers against their Filipino workers.
“Maalala ko January of 2020, nag-impose po ng deployment ban si dating pangulong Rodrigo Duterte at tiningnan nang mabuti kung ano ba ang nandoon sa kasunduan, hiningi ni dating Pangulong Duterte, ‘yung ating nararapat na karapatan na ibigay sa atin at dapat po pabor ang kasunduan sa Pilipinas,” Go said.
“So sa ngayon po, dapat tingnan nating mabuti at hindi po dapat maulit ang mga ganitong pangyayari. Nasasaktan po tayo. So, imbestigahan nang mabuti at papanagutin po ang dapat papanagutin para hindi na po maulit muli ang ganitong pagkamatay ng ating kababayan,” he added.
Go then emphasized how important it is for the government to take measures to safeguard the lives of Filipinos who have chosen to seek employment opportunities outside of the country.
“Importante po dito seguridad. Buhay po ng ating mga kababayan,” he stressed.
“Proteksyunan natin ang buhay nila at karapatan nila nang hindi po dapat maulit ang ganitong karahasan.”
“Hindi nga po natin sila mapigilan magtrabaho sa ibang bansa dahil mas malaki po ang sahod sa ibang bansa. Pero dapat po, unahin natin, proteksyunan natin ang buhay nila at karapatan nila nang hindi po dapat maulit ang ganitong karahasan. Security po, security ng ating mga OFW,” Go said.
Supporting the recommendations of other senators, he also suggested that the Philippines must consider deploying OFWs to countries that have sufficient mechanisms in place to protect workers such as those who are signatories of the International Labor Organization Domestic Workers Convention, among other international agreements and protocols geared towards giving greater protection and promoting the welfare of migrant workers.