Philippines Secretary of Labor Silvestre Bello with Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Mohammad Nordin Lomondot.

Several household employers in Kuwait called the ban on deployment of Filipino household helpers who are currently on vacation in the Philippines and wish to return to Kuwait, a denial of rights and opportunities for those citizens to earn decent wages. The Times Kuwait recently spoke to some Arab employers and gathered reactions on the effect of the ban not only among employers but also on the workers. Names of interviewees have been changed as per request.

“How will she be able to finance her chemotherapy as she suffers from colon cancer? She could not return to Kuwait due to the ban imposed by the Philippine government among household workers returning from vacation” stated Munirah, a Kuwaiti mother of two and businesswoman.  Munirah added that her Filipina household helper has been working for her family for the past 12 years and she had to go on quick vacation to visit her mother who was ill.

“My maid has been diagnosed with colon cancer and we have been providing full support, from her treatments to medications, as well as for her family in the Philippines. Whether we can find a replacement for her, is the least of my concerns, but her continuous treatments and medications for her to be able to live is what worries me most,” explained Munirah. She added that her kids have been in constant communication with her maid and provides support and encouragement that she will be able to return to them in no time. “I urge the Philippine government to not only look into the issues of violations and crimes committed by an isolated number of individuals in Kuwait, but to also look closely at the bigger number of household employers who have made their maids a part of their families for years,” concluded Munirah.

“It’s heartbreaking to see my house helper not being able to return home for fear of not being able to come back” said LouJean, a Kuwaiti Businesswoman and mother of a small boy. LouJean stated that her Filipina maid has been paying for her daughter’s college education for several years and the daughter will graduate this March and the only wish her daughter wanted was to hand over her diploma to her mother during graduation. Since the ban was implemented among returning workers, she decided not to return home as she will not be allowed to come back to her employer. “I can feel how depressed she is not to be with her daughter during this special occasion, in fact I volunteered to go to Philippines to represent her and bring the mobile gift she purchased from her savings. This is so inconsiderate of the Philippine government to deprive these household helpers not to come back to their employers and go on working to support their families. The Philippine government needs to understand that they are coming back to their employers because they are treated well and somehow built that relationship well,” stated LouJean. She added that this whole fiasco on banning returning workers should not have been taken from the very start.

“The Philippines government wanted justice for the death of the Filipina maid and so do we all,” said Nadia, a Kuwaiti Banker. Nadia said that the crime of one can never and should not have a collective effect. “Taking someone’s life is not only a heinous crime but a grievous sin before God. But only those who commit such a crime should face justice and be held accountable for what they did. Many Filipinos I know are not in favor of this ban and I agree, as I heard from the friend of my son’s nanny that many could not return to their employers here in Kuwait and are currently stuck in the Philippines until this case is resolved. I felt that the effect of this ban has more negative effects among Filipinos who could not return,” stated Nadia.

She asked, “What happens to the Filipinos who are stuck in the Philippines and without any income to support their families, the case drags on in the court?” Nadia explained that the effect of the ban is being shouldered by innocent workers, who want nothing more than to work and earn good income for their families. “Why is the Philippine government then ignoring these workers who want to return to their employers? They need to reconsider their laws,” ended Nadia.

The Philippines Department of Labor and Employment headed by Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who was on a recent visit in Kuwait announced the lifting of the ban on Filipino workers with Visa 18 that included professionals, skilled, semi-skilled and returning workers, but maintained ban on Visa 20 holders both for those newly hired and returning workers, which has been contested and questioned several times not only by the workers but existing employers who have their household helpers working for their families for years. Bello affirmed that the ban will only be lifted when justice is served to the slain Filipina Jeanelyn Villavende.

The first day of court hearing on the case of Jeanelyn Villavende was on 5 February. The three lawyers of the defendants were Adel Mejbel, Zaid AlSanea and Mark. The lawyers requested the court to temporarily release their client to take care of her young children.

However, Attorney Sheikha Fawziya Al-Sabah, representing the Philippine government objected to the request, citing the gravity and seriousness of the crime of “murder”. Since the 21-day custodial detention will be complete soon, the court extended the defendants’ custodial detention at the Sulaibiyah Central Prison.

The presiding judge advised the lawyers of both sides to submit their respective Special Power of Attorney, which are executed by Ms. Villavende’s family and the defendants, respectively, during the next court hearing on 25  March, 2020. The presiding judge said they still need to read, study, and review the case file to enable them to determine if the case is murder.

Ricky Laxa
Staff Writer

Read Today's News TODAY... on our Telegram Channel click here to join and receive all the latest updates