Villanueva chides slain OFW’s recruitment firm over ‘useless’ monitoring system
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva on Wednesday fumed over the “useless” monitoring system of Catalist International Manpower Services – the recruitment firm of Jullebee Ranara, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) slain in Kuwait.
During the Senate committees on foreign relations and migrant workers hearing, Villanueva noted that Ranara had spoken to her parents about the “cruelty” she had reportedly been experiencing at the hands of her suspected killer, the 17-year-old son of her Kuwaiti employer, a day before she was found dead in the desert on January 21.
Ranara even recalled being threatened by her employer’s son with an ice pick, he added.
But lawyer David Castillon, who was previously identified as a member of the Advocates and Keepers Organization of OFW Inc. (AKO-OFW) but turned out to be a legal counsel for Catalist, said the complaint reached Ranara’s parents but not the agency.
Angered by Castillon’s remark, Villanueva said: “You are not monitoring. That’s why. Your monitoring is ineffective. Inutil iyong monitoring niyo (Your monitoring is useless).”
He then repeatedly asked Castillon if he believes that Catalist’s system of monitoring the state of OFWs it deployed is effective.
“You’re saying that every day, you check, you monitor. A day before she died, ganito iyong situation (this was the situation),” Villanueva said.
He added: “If you don’t have the heart for the OFWs, ganito lagi mangyayari. Araw-araw ganito mangyayari, taun-taon ganito iyong nangyayari. Sawang-sawa na kaming mag-hearing dito.”
(If you don’t have the heart for the OFWs, this is what will always happen. Every day, every year, this will happen. We’re so tired of conducting hearings about this.)
Coming into Catalist’s defense, Castillon recounted a conversation they had with Ranara, where she supposedly said there were no “traces” of a hostile or violent working environment.
“As a matter of fact, chine-check din namin iyong TikTok, iyong Facebook. Tinitingnan namin kung any post na nanghihingi ng tulong,” he added.
(As a matter of fact, we checked her TikTok and Facebook. We looked into her posts which may have called out for help.)
According to Catalist president and general manager Rachel Rucas, one employee is assigned to monitor the 150 OFWs recruited by their firm and deployed to Kuwait.
She also said that more of their workers check on the situation of OFWs when they have “slack time.”
Damaging, baseless claims
Citing a report from what he referred to as a foreign agency, Castillon claimed there was a relationship between Ranara and her employer’s son.
“Tinago ito sa amin. Nalaman lang ito noong nangyari iyong insidente,” he pointed out.
(It was concealed from us. We only found out about it when the incident happened.)
Castillon also noted that Ranara’s mobile phone and the autopsy report which, he said, showed that the victim was five months pregnant, had been turned over to the Kuwait embassy.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Arnell Ignacio, however, said they deem it unnecessary to discuss “scandalous questions that may smear the personality of Jullebee.”
But he clarified that the autopsy report from the Kuwait government made no mention of Ranara being pregnant.
“Ang resulta lamang ay wala iyong matres ng biktima,” Ignacio said. “Iyong autopsy from Kuwait, marami pong binanggit–fractured skull, face, lower jaw, bruises, ravaged brain, but there is no categorical mention here of pregnancy.”
(The result showed that the victim was without a uterus. The autopsy from Kuwait mentioned a lot of things–fractured skull, face, lower jaw, bruises, ravaged brain but there is no categorical mention here of pregnancy.)
In view of this, Villanueva called for the deletion of Castillon’s claims from the chamber’s records.
“Very damaging iyong sinabi niya nang walang basis (What he said with no basis is very damaging),” he stressed.
Tulfo then asked Castillon to apologize to the Senate panels, as well as Ranara’s grieving family.
“I apologize, and I do not object to the deletion. I apologize to the committee and to the family of the deceased,” Castillon said.
The gruesome killing of Ranara, reportedly at the hands of her Kuwaiti employer’s son, reignited the clamor for the Philippines to reimpose OFW deployment ban to Kuwait.
While initially insisting that such labor migration issues can be resolved through “social dialogue,” the Department of Migrant Workers called for a temporary stoppage on the deployment of first-time Filipino household workers to the middle eastern country.
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