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Manila vows justice for pregnant Filipino worker murdered in Kuwait

filipino worker kuwait
via @DMWPHL

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    The Philippine government has condemned the grisly murder of a pregnant overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Kuwait and has vowed to work closely with the Kuwaiti government for justice.

    The charred remains of Jullebee Ranara, a 35-year-old domestic helper, were found in a desert in Kuwait on Sunday, days after her friends and family reported her missing. 

    According to an autopsy report cited by Philippine senators, Ranara was reportedly pregnant when she was “beaten, ran over by the perpetrator’s car twice and burnt and left for dead in the desert.”

    The Philippine’s Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) called on Kuwaiti authorities for a fast resolution of the case and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

    On Monday, Secretary Susan Ople coordinated with Ranara’s family and promised them justice and all necessary support, including burial assistance and scholarships for Ranara’s four children. 

    According to the mother, Jullebee has been complaining about her employer’s son, who was abusive. In fact, there was a time that he threatened her. [He] is now under the custody of the Kuwaiti police.

    We will reach out to the Kuwaiti government. Maybe it’s time to review the 2018 bilateral labor agreement so it would be similar to the bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia which has more safeguards for our workers.

    Migrant Workers Secretary @susanople vows justice for slain OFW Jullebee Ranaza as she consoles the mother of the murdered OFW. The 35-year old domestic worker was found dead Sunday in the desert, her body burned. Kuwaiti authorities have arrested the son of her employer. pic.twitter.com/6D937XVqUP

    — Department of Migrant Workers – Philippines (@DMWPHL) January 23, 2023

    The DMW and the Department of Foreign Affairs are awaiting the official report on the incident from the Kuwaiti authorities. Ranara is the latest victim of abuse or murder while deployed in Kuwait in recent years.

    In 2018, former President Rodrigo Duterte banned the deployment of workers to Kuwait following the murder of 29-year-old Filipino domestic worker Joanna Daniela Demafelis

    Demafelis’ employers hid her body in a freezer at an abandoned apartment.

    In 2019, 47-year-old OFW Constancia Lago Dayag was also murdered by her employer in Kuwait after being physically and sexually assaulted. 

    In 2020, it was reported that 26-year-old Jeanelyn Villavende was killed by her employer due to jealousy on Dec. 28, 2019.

    The Philippine government only agreed to lift the deployment ban of Filipino migrant workers to Kuwait in February 2020 after Kuwait agreed to improve working conditions. 

    However, Ranara’s murder may not lead to a deployment ban due to Kuwait’s quick response in arresting the suspect, according to Ople.

    In a statement released on Tuesday, Migrante Philippines, a grassroots global alliance of Filipino migrants organizations, called for an end to the government’s labor export program.

    Despite the sufferings of our countrymen, the DMW still wants to continue the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait and similar countries. Instead of selling Filipino workers abroad, the government must find a sustainable reintegration program for overseas Filipino workers.

    The news of Ranara’s killing comes as the DMW works to repatriate all distressed OFWs in Kuwait by the end of January this year. As of Jan. 17, the country has repatriated 142 out of 421 distressed workers.

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