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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - MANILA: The Filipino secretary of foreign affairs has ordered the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait to stop the payment of 7.5 million pesos ($160,000) in blood money over the murder of an overseas Filipino worker.
Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, 26, died from injuries inflicted by her employer’s wife in December 2019.
In December last year, a Kuwaiti court sentenced Villavende’s female employer, a Kuwaiti citizen, to death by hanging, while the husband was given a four-year jail term for not reporting the crime.
In a tweet, Filipino foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr., announced that he had instructed Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Mohammed Noordin Pendosina Lomondot to ensure that the death penalty was carried out.
“The P7.5 million blood money to pay off this horror is changing hands even as I tweet; ordered Kuwait PE (Philippine Embassy) Lomondot to stop it; on our part, we must match the P7.5 million offer to her surviving kin — now,” Locsin said.
“Lomondot must make sure the court judgment of death is carried out,” added Locsin, who retweeted his post of Dec. 26 in which he shared a photo of murdered maid Villavende.
“Malacaсang is on to this ignominy. There must be hell to pay if anyone on our side shows ambivalence and a lack of total commitment. This is unforgivable,” he said.
On Tuesday, Locsin said he has instructed Lomondot “to report in writing the shenanigans going on there and what he’s done about it … what he’s done to stop it.”
In response to a comment on his commitment to the case, Locsin said: “She’s dead. No one came to the rescue when it mattered. Now it is not a matter of rescue but respect for the dead by giving her justice no matter what her surviving kin think of the worth of her agony.”
The Villavende case sparked outrage in the country and prompted the Philippine government to temporarily stop sending domestic workers to the Gulf state in early 2020. The ban was lifted when Kuwaiti authorities filed charges against Villavende’s employers and introduced legal protection measures for Filipino household staff.
Initial reports showed Villavende was tortured and beaten for months by her employer’s wife. Her death certificate indicated she had died due to “acute failure of heart and respiration as result by (sic) shock and multiple injuries in the vascular nervous system.”
A forensic examination conducted by the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation on Villavende’s body also showed “clear indications of sexual abuse,” and signs of physical abuse dating back weeks before her death.
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