‘Worse than animal’: Kin on fate of OFW killed in Kuwait

Hindi tao naghimo sini, sobra pa sa sapat (This was not the work of a human, worse than an animal).

This was how one of the family members of Jeanelyn Villavende, a domestic helper who was killed by her employer in Kuwait late last month, described her ordeal after seeing her remains in a funeral home here on Thursday.

The 26-year-old Villavende returned home in a wooden box, more than a week after her tragic death and barely five months after leaving the hilly village of Tinago, full of life and hopes of a better life for her family.

Kaluluoy si Tata (She's in pitiful shape), an emotional Nelly Padernal, Jeanelyn's aunt, cried out after viewing the body of her niece, who was fondly called Tata by family and friends.

Padernal identified the victim at the Emerald Mortuary and Services in Barangay Poblacion, where she was brought after arriving at the General Santos City airport via commercial flight from Manila past 8 a.m.

Villavende's remains were repatriated from Kuwait on Wednesday, through the efforts of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Her father Abelardo and Padernal accompanied her from Manila, along with personnel from the DFA, DOLE and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Padernal said an autopsy will be done by the National Bureau of Investigation at the funeral home before she will be brought home to Barangay Tinago, about seven kilometers from the town proper.

She said the autopsy will validate the cause of Jeanelyn's death as officially reported by Kuwaiti authorities.

The DFA earlier said the victim was reportedly beaten to death last Dec. 30 by her female Kuwaiti employer, who has since been detained along with her husband in connection with the killing.

Zosimo Panizales, Jeanelyn's uncle, said the latter's remains were in bad shape and showed that she suffered before her death.

She said the victim had a huge wound on the back of her head and there were hematoma and abrasions on her shoulder and other parts of the body.

Mortuary personnel said the victim was identified by her relatives through a birth mark on her leg.

Jeanelyn's half-brother Jason Padernal said the victim was hardly recognizable as her face had some bruises and other marks from possible severe beating.

I can't imagine how they did this to her. They took her life...they should be hanged for this, he said.

Moises Villavende, Jeanelyn's uncle, said they still cannot accept what happened to his niece, whom he described as quiet and caring.

She was in very good shape when she left. And now this. It's hard for us to accept her fate, said the former barangay chair of Tinago for 21 years.

Mayor Clemente Fedoc, who personally oversaw the arrangements for Jeanelyn at the funeral home, assured that the municipal government will provide all the necessary support to her family.

He said they earlier rehabilitated the road leading to Barangay Tinago in anticipation of the victim's return.

My office is also coordinating with the Sangguniang Bayan for the provision of other assistance to her family, he said.

Jocelyn Hapal, director of the repatriation and assistance division of the OWWA central office, said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac will visit Jeanelyn's family on Friday.

This is to make sure that all the necessary arrangements for (Jeanelyn) will be made, she told reporters.

Source: Philippines News Agency