Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go during a radio interview, expressed his condemnation of the violent killing of Filipino household service worker Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende in the hands of her Kuwaiti employer.
“Kinokondena ko ‘yung pagpatay kay Jeanelyn at despite the May 2018 agreement between the Philippines and Kuwaiti government, there are still reports of violence and abuses committed against our fellow Filipinos in Kuwait,” Go added.
“Masakit na iniiwan ng mga kababayan natin ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay upang makapagtrabaho lang sa mga malalayong lugar at mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang pamilya. Mas masakit malaman na sa kabila ng kanilang sakripisyo, sila ay patuloy na naaabuso at minsan namamatay pa,” Go added.
The senator also expressed his sympathy for the family of the victim, saying, “Nakikiramay ako sa mga naulila ni Jeanelyn. Asahan na kaisa ninyo ako sa paghanap ng agarang hustisya sa pagkamatay ng inyong mahal sa buhay.”
According to Go, his office will also provide assistance to the family of the deceased particularly for the medical needs of the father with the help of the Malasakit Center.
Go then called on concerned government agencies to coordinate in regard to the immediate repatriation of the slain OFW.
“I call upon the Departments of Labor and Employment, and Foreign Affairs, and other agencies to coordinate with the bereaved family of Jeanelyn for the immediate repatriation of her remains. I also call upon Kuwaiti authorities to wrap up and be transparent with your investigations and make sure that the perpetrator/s will be punished according to the fullest extent of your laws,” he said.
“Tututukan ko ang isyung ito at siguraduhing mabigyan ng hustisya ang pagkamatay ng kababayan natin. Kailangang masigurado din na maibigay ng gobyerno at maging ng private insurance company ang lahat ng mga benepisyo para sa mga naulila ni Jeanelyn, katulad ng livelihood assistance, death and burial assistance, scholarship sa naiwang kapamilya at iba pa,” Go added.
Citing Villavende’s case, Go mentioned the pressing need for a separate department for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) which aims to put certain government agencies dealing with the OFWs under one umbrella. If passed into law, Go said that it will help in curbing issues and inconveniences experienced by Filipino migrant workers and will also provide better protection for them.
“Muli, nananawagan naman ako sa aking mga kapwa mambabatas na ipasa na sa mas lalong madaling panahon ang panukala kong batas na magtatatag ng Department of Overseas Filipinos. Kailangan nating ilagay ang lahat ng mga ahensyang tumutugon sa ating mga OFWs at ilagay sa iisang kagawaran lang. Mas magiging maayos at mabuti ang mga serbisyo sa kanila, at mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon, lalo na sa mga OFWs na kailangang masaklolohan kaagad,” he said.
“Huwag na nating antayin pa po na… halimbawa ngayon, I condemn the killing of Jeanelyn Villavende. Siya po ay overseas worker natin sa Kuwait,” he added.
Go filed in July 2018 Senate Bill (SB) 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019. The proposed measure aims to establish a Department of Overseas Filipinos to serve as the umbrella agency to specifically address all the issues and concerns of Filipinos abroad and their families, to afford them full protection, promote their full and just employment, mitigate the social costs back home, and serve as a channel to address OFW issues and grievances.
The measure further creates an Overseas Filipinos Assistance Fund to provide financial support to Filipino migrants in distress, inclusive of repatriation and provisions for life-saving funds in times of great emergency or distress, and provides training and livelihood loans for OFWs returning to the Philippines for good.
The bill also mandates the creation of “OFW Malasakit Centers” in all provinces and major cities to ensure prompt and efficient provision of services to OFWs and their families, such as acquisition of government permits, validation of overseas job offers, grievance and complaints desks and reintegration services.
Currently, OFWs need to go to different government agencies scattered in several departments and offices to secure their needed documents and present their other concerns, such as employment and technical education.
Ending his interview, Go said that he will continue to serve the Filipino beyond his role as a senator by listening to their concerns and giving immediate solutions to their needs.
“Gaya ng sinabi ko noon, I will not limit myself as a legislator. Tuluy-tuloy po ang pagbibisita ko sa atingmga kababayan. Ayaw ko po na nasa opisina lang na nagpapalamig samantala ‘yung mga kababayan natin ay nangangailangan ng tulong,” he said.