16 September 2023
Migrante-International welcomes the Kuwait court’s speedy resolution of the case of Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Jullebee Ranara whose burned, murdered and pregnant body was found in a desert in January this year.
At the same time, we believe that the 15-year prison sentence on her murderer is an insult to Jullebee’s family, OFWs and all Filipinos seeking justice for her. While we recognize that Jullebee’s murderer was a minor when the crime was committed, he should stay in jail longer than 15 years for this gruesome crime.
A 15-year sentence for the murderer of Jullebee shows how little value is given to the life of a migrant worker, a young woman, a domestic worker and a Filipina who is also the breadwinner of her family. The Kuwaiti court should clearly send a message to abusive, violent and murderous employers that foreign domestic workers’ lives matter.
We call on the Philippine government to push for a longer jail sentence for the murderer and for compensation for Jullebee’s family. We also reiterate our calls on the Philippine government in relation to the murders of four Filipina domestic workers in Kuwait in the past five years:
(1) Order the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait to be more alert and attentive to OFWs’ complaints and cries for help. Expand repatriation and other services for distressed OFWs there.
The huge confidential funds of top government officials like Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte should go to increasing and improving services for OFWs instead. OFW and migrant Filipinos need and deserve improved services, not the deployment of Philippine National Police attaches abroad.
(2) Push for measures that will improve the working and living conditions of Filipino domestic workers and OFWs in Kuwait.
(3) In particular, push for reforms in, if not the abolition of, the kafala system, which has meant total employer control over domestic workers and OFWs.
The Philippine government should take serious measures to create decent jobs at home and not depend on foreign investors and countries to provide employment to Filipinos. We say this also in the light of independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’ detection of a 3 million decrease in employed Filipinos in July 2022 to July 2023, as well as the decrease in FDI in the country by 20.4% in the first half of 2023.
The Philippine government should learn the lessons of our neighbors who implemented successful land reform, agricultural and industrial policies to create decent jobs at home. ###