DMW team off to Kuwait to probe Ranara case

Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople says the Ranara family wants an autopsy on the slain OFW

Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople gives updates on slain overseas Filipina worker Jullebee Ranara on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (Screenshot from Zoom)

MANILA, Philippines — Following the murder of another Filipina domestic helper in Kuwait, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople dispatched a team from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to gather updates on the case and those of other overseas Filipino workers and initiate discussions with Kuwaiti officials on possible reforms.

Ople said at a press briefing on Saturday that she was looking at adding more safeguards for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait rather than imposing a precipitous deployment ban as some senators demanded last week.

“These are things that should be [considered] deeply and it cannot be a product of emotion or political acoustics,” Ople said. “Workers are involved, that’s why we in the DMW are very careful.”

Last week, several senators urged the DMW to ban the deployment of more workers to Kuwait, similar to the one imposed after the deaths of domestic helpers Joanna Demafalis in 2018 and Jeanelyn Villavende in 2019.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said there was a need to reimpose the ban because too many OFWs, mostly female domestic workers, were getting killed in Kuwait and the government does not even have clear knowledge of how they died. Sen. Cynthia Villar said the deployment ban imposed after the deaths of Demafilis and Villavende resulted in better working conditions for nearly 155,000 OFWs in Kuwait.

But Ople argued that deployment bans could also damage bilateral ties or even make things worse for OFWs. Nonetheless, Ople said the findings of the DMW team may result in policy reforms in the country’s labor agreements with Kuwait.

The deployment ban was raised anew after the death of domestic helper Jubellee Ranara, who was found dead in the desert on Jan. 22 with severe injuries. The Kuwaiti media reported autopsy findings that Ranara was raped and pregnant. Her remains arrived in the country on Jan. 27.

Also on Saturday, Migrant Workers Undersecretary Bernard Olalia said that charges were being readied against recruitment firm Catalist International Manpower Services for not monitoring Ranara’s situation with her employers.


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