Solon seeks review of PHL maids' deployment to Kuwait
A day after a Filipina domestic helper was executed in Kuwait, a lawmaker proposed a review of the Philippine government's policy in sending domestic workers to the Middle Eastern country.
ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. John Bertiz said the government should "reconsider" sending Filipino domestic workers to Kuwait. He said Filipino domestic helpers make up more than half of the 250,000 OFWs in Kuwait.
"Like Jakatia [Pawa], they are all vulnerable to abuse and exploitation," said Bertiz at the weekly Serye forum in Quezon City on Thursday.
The Kuwaiti government executed Jakatia Pawa on Wednesday afternoon (PHL time), seven years after she was sentenced to death for killing her employer's 22-year-old daughter. She has maintained innocence up to the day of her death.
In November 2016, Bertiz filed a resolution seeking "to look into the plight of household service workers in Kuwait and into the oft repeated demand for ban/moratorium on their deployment by Filipino organizations [there]."
"If the Kuwaiti government cannot guarantee the safety of our workers or, in Jakatia's case, ensure that they have access to justice and fair trial, then perhaps it’s time for us to seriously [re]consider Kuwait as a country of destination for our OFWs," he said.
"The Philippine government would be remiss in its duty to protect our OFWs if we continue to send them to countries which treat them like expendable goods and without an ounce for mercy," Bertiz added.
Bertiz is also seeking a review of how the Philippine government handled Pawa’s case, saying her death "exposed fatal flaws in our system" of dealing with Filipinos on death row overseas—from how their cases are monitored, to providing legal assistance, and eventually supporting their bereaved families.
"I will call for a review of this case to determine what we could have done better. Let us use the lessons learned from the wrongful execution of Jakatia to make sure that no innocent OFW would be put to death because our government failed to be pro-active in monitoring their situation and in providing timely assistance," he said.
Bertiz maintained that Pawa was innocent, based on her "consistent" denial of the crime and saying the victim's family had stronger motives to kill tge because of
"There was clearly a miscarriage of justice in this case and it pains me that we failed to save the life of an innocent Filipina," he added.
Pawa, a mother of two, claimed that the victim had been caught having an illicit love affair with a male neighbor, which caused strong animosity between her and her family.
Bertiz slammed the Department of Foreign Affairs anew for being “reactionary” on Pawa’s case.
“May magagawa pa sana… Nu’ng nag-courtesy call ‘yung bagong ambassador—kung ginawa ng DFA ang kanilang trabaho—dapat 'yung folder na iaabot [sa head ng bansa during the courtesy call] nandoon na 'yung mga nasa death row," he said.
He also noted how Pawa herself had to inform her family of her execution the following day, and the DFA and Philippine embassy's seeming "neglect" to reach out to her loved ones. —KBK, GMA News