MANILA -- Weeping relatives of a Filipina maid allegedly mauled to death by her employer in Kuwait demanded justice on Thursday as her remains arrived in their hometown in General Santos City.
The killing of Jeanelyn Villavende in December prompted the Philippine government last week to suspend the deployment of household workers to Kuwait, including new hires and those with expired contracts.
The slain Filipina's relatives carried a tarpaulins and signboards bearing the phrases "#Justice for Jeanelyn" and "We condemn the killing of OFW."
Villavende's employers, who are in custody, should face the death penalty, said her aunt Erlinda Indaya.
"Gusto ko siyang mabitay, mamatay kasi kawawa ang pamangkin ko," she said, in tears.
Kuwait is home to 262,000 Filipinos, nearly 60 percent of whom are domestic workers, whose remittances are a lifeline to the Philippine economy, according to the foreign ministry.
Philippine and Kuwaiti officials this month will negotiate a template contract that would protect Filipino workers by barring their employers from confiscating their passports and mobile phones, and transferring them to another workplace without the labor attaché's consent, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello earlier said.
In 2018, the Philippines also temporarily stopped sending workers to Kuwait after a string of reported abuse and deaths of Filipino workers, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in her employer's freezer.
This led to the signing of an agreement on OFW protection between Kuwait and Manila.
In May last year, Malacañang called for a review of the pact following the death of another Filipina in Kuwait.