Finally, Secretary Silvestre Belo III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has woken up from his long slumber. Last week, he recommended that President Rodrigo Duterte impose a permanent ban against deploying Filipino domestic workers to Kuwait.
Bello’s recommendation came after the brutal murder of Jeanelyn Villavende, the 26-year-old Filipina from South Cotabato who left the Philippines in July 2019 to work as a domestic helper of a household in Kuwait. Last December, she was brutally killed by her beastly employers. Her remains were repatriated last week.
As a consequence, the DoLE ordered a suspension of any deployment of domestic helpers to Kuwait.
This is the third time a Filipina domestic worker was murdered in Kuwait during Bello’s watch as Labor Secretary.
In February 2018, the body of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis was found inside a freezer in the abandoned apartment of her Kuwaiti employers. She was beaten to death by the barbarous Kuwaiti couple who employed her.
The Demafelis murder prompted President Duterte to impose a ban against further deployment of domestic helpers to Kuwait. Observers noted that Bello was lukewarm to the ban.
To appease a very angry President Duterte, the Kuwait government promised to henceforth improve the treatment of Filipino domestic helpers in their country. In May 2018, the Philippines and Kuwait signed an agreement to that effect.
Thereafter, President Duterte lifted the deployment ban. Still, many observers familiar with the overseas employment environment doubted if the deal will really be honored by Kuwaiti employers.
The answer came in May 2019 when another Filipino domestic helper in Kuwait, Maria Constancia Dayag, was raped and killed there. It was a breach of the labor agreement between Manila and Kuwait City, but it seemed that Bello paid minimal attention to it.
Analysts believe that the barbarous behavior of Kuwaiti employers toward domestic helpers can be traced to the tradition of slavery promoted by greedy Arab slave traders in the Middle East centuries ago. Slaves were bought, traded, won in wars, and at the end of the day, treated no differently from animals.
That mentality endures today, as seen in the uncivilized behavior demonstrated toward Asian domestic helpers not just by employers from Kuwait, but likewise by those from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. For most Arabs, hiring a domestic helper is akin to buying a slave.
For the record, Saudi Arabia abolished slavery only in 1965. That belated abolition, however, remains only in paper, for the uncivilized mentality of most Arabs towards domestic helpers lingers.
Arab wealth from oil revenues realized through the second half of the 20th century contributed to the uncivilized mentality of Arabs. Their newfound, overnight wealth made Arab employers contemptuous of people from Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.
The only Asians the Arabs treat with courtesy and respect are the Japanese. That’s because Japan is an economic powerhouse that does not deploy its people as domestic helpers.
Although Kuwaiti authorities say they have taken legal action against Villavende’s killers, that should not prompt Manila to lift the suspension on the deployment of domestic helpers to Kuwait.
The reason — Kuwaiti authorities have not been truthful in their medico-legal findings in the Villavende case.
According to the autopsy sent to Manila by Kuwait authorities, Villavende died of a heart attack. In contrast, however, an autopsy conducted in Manila by the National Bureau of Investigation discloses that Villavende’s skull was actually crushed, and that she was sexually violated prior to getting beaten to death.
The disgraceful attempt on the part of Kuwaiti authorities to conceal the real reasons behind Villavende’s murder, coupled with chronic reports of murdered Filipino domestic helpers in Kuwait, notwithstanding the promise of Kuwait City to protect Filipino domestic helpers as stipulated in the May 2018 labor agreement, are enough reasons to warrant a permanent ban against the deployment of Filipino domestic helpers to that barbarous country.
Undoubtedly, Kuwaitis are barbarous because they are wealthy. Fortunately, limited oil supplies and developments in alternative fuel sources will make their wealth finite.
Kuwaitis will have their comeuppance when their oil wells eventually dry up, thus forcing them back to being wandering desert nomads of olden times.