Bello to Kuwait: Ball is in your hands

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    LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello III yesterday told Kuwait the lifting of the total deployment ban ordered by the Philippine government hinges on the actions that its government will undertake in the coming weeks.

    Bello, in a press briefing, said he is waiting for the response of Kuwait on the case of slain overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jeanelyn Villavende and its decision whether or not to adopt a proposed standard employment contract for Filipino household service workers (HSWs).

    “It (ban) will stay until we don’t get justice for Ms. Villavende and we don’t get a consensus on the standard employment contract. If we don’t get them both, there won’t be any deployment,” Bello said.

    “The ball is in their hands. They have to show us that they can protect our workers,” he added.

    Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, echoed the deployment ban will stay until there is strict implementation and compliance with the Philippines-Kuwait agreement that protects and promotes the welfare of Filipinos working in Kuwait.

    Panelo said the abuse and death of worker Villavende showed how some sectors continue to exclude in the labor contracts of Filipino workers the agreements reached by the two countries last year.

    “Iyon ang kundisyon eh, kapag hindi ninyo ginawa iyong pinag-usapan natin diyan, tuluy-tuloy ang ban naming (That is the condition, if you do not comply with what had been agreed on, the ban will continue),” he said.

    On Wednesday, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued a total deployment ban to Kuwait.

    The ban came following the brutal killing of Villavende in the hands of her employers last December.

    An autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on Villavende’s remain showed her heart and brain were missing. The autopsy likewise indicated she was sexually abused and repeatedly beaten prior to her death.

    An embalmment report from a Kuwaiti hospital only indicated that she suffered from maltreatment.

    Asked why skilled workers and professionals were included in the deployment ban, Bello said their inclusion was a preemptive move on the part of the Philippine government. – With Jocelyn Montemayor