Overseas Filipino workers. (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to impose a total deployment ban of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait, Malacañang announced on Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Filipinos are now officially barred from seeking jobs in the Gulf state, following the killing of Filipino domestic worker Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende.

“The Palace wishes to inform the public that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has approved the recommendation of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III on the total deployment ban of Filipino workers in Kuwait. The ban includes skilled workers,” Panelo said.

The announcement came after Duterte recently announced that he was not keen on ordering the repatriation of Filipino workers from Kuwait.

In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN aired last week, the President said he has no plan to pull out Filipinos working in the Gulf state because he was satisfied with the Kuwaiti government's swift response to Villavende's case.

Panelo also issued the statement after the DOLE sought the total ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait in the wake of Villavende’s murder and the Arab state’s supposed attempt to cover up the case.

Results of the National Bureau of Investigation’s examination of Villavende’s remains showed signs of sexual abuse on the victim. There were also “old healed wounds” which indicate that Villavende had been battered weeks prior to her killing.

Panelo said it seemed that the Kuwaiti government is trying to conceal the truth.

“The result of the re-autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) indicates that overseas Filipino worker Jeanelyn Villavende was sexually abused and sodomized,” he said.

“The Kuwaiti government was attempting to hide the said circumstance when it gave us a general autopsy report that the cause of death was trauma and bruises all over her body,” he added.

Panelo said the total deployment ban would not be lifted unless Kuwait honors the 2018 labor deal with the Philippines.

He was referring to the memorandum of agreement on the protection of OFWs in the Arab country signed by the two countries on May 11, 2018.

“PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) is for a total ban until the memorandum of agreement between the two countries is fully implemented and the terms contained therein are incorporated in every labor contract with our OFWs,” he said.

The labor pact between the Philippines and Kuwait was seen as a solution to end the persistent human rights violations committed by Kuwaiti employers against their Filipino workers. (PNA)