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Kuwaiti report hid abuse

An examination by NBI-Medico Legal Division, Dr. Ricardo Rodaje last 10 January, showed signs of sexual abuse and traces of weeks of physical maltreatment.

Alvin Murcia

Published

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The body of the late overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jeanelyn Villavende bore signs of sexual abuse and old wounds that indicated she had been battered long before her death, which were details apparently hidden in a Kuwaiti government report.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III went ballistic yesterday after learning of the NBI findings which he said was very far from the report forwarded by the foreign government.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted an autopsy on the remains of Villavende, who was allegedly beaten to death by her employer in Kuwait late last month.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said an examination by NBI-Medico Legal Division, Dr. Ricardo Rodaje last 10 January, showed signs of sexual abuse and traces of weeks of physical maltreatment.

“There were clear indications of sexual abuse,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

“There were also old healed wounds indicating that Villavende had been battered weeks prior to the fateful incident,” he added.

“I found out that the autopsy report of the Kuwaiti government was false, a lie and was worthless,” Bello bared.

Full Kuwait ban starts
Bello vowed justice for Villavende as he announced a ban on the deployment of household workers in Kuwait.

The killing of Villavende has initially prompted a partial deployment ban of OFW to Kuwait.

In 2018, a diplomatic row between Manila and Kuwait also erupted after the discovery of the body of OFW Joanna Demafelis inside a freezer found at an abandoned warehouse.

“We will no longer send OFW there. What they did to our kababayan (countryman), if I tell you, you might also protest. They (Kuwaitis) oppressed our kababayan so much,” Bello said.

“We will not allow this injustice to our OFW. We will see to it that the culprits will answer for their crimes,” he added.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has also ordered the NBI to investigate the circumstances on the recruitment of Villavende in the Philippines.

In Department Order 009 dated 8 January, Guevarra directed the NBI “to conduct an investigation and case buildup” to be reported within 30 days and “if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against persons found responsible.”

Strings of raps vs recruiter
The DoJ order said the investigation includes “the possible liability for violation of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, or other laws on the part of the officers or employees/agents of the recruitment agency that had placed her for employment in Kuwait.”

Villavende’s employers are currently detained in Kuwait.

The remains of Villavende arrived in Manila on Wednesday and were flown to her hometown in Norala, South Cotabato the following day.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has also provided the family with financial assistance to help defray the funeral expenses.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier was enraged over the killing of Villavende but is not keen on imposing a total deployment or pull out of OFW from Kuwait — citing the arrest made against the suspects.

We will no longer send OFW there. What they did to our kababayan (countrymen), if I tell you, you might also protest. They (Kuwaitis) oppressed our kababayan so much.

“The situation there is quite different. We do not see apathy there and police authorities acted swiftly and they have arrested the spouses,” Mr. Duterte said.

“Apparently, justice is being done,” he added.

with Raymart Lolo
and Francis T. Wakefield
 @tribunephl_lolo

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