Close to 200 Filipinos have died in Kuwait since 2016, most of them due to medical reasons while others had committed suicide, according to data from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
OWWA said of the 196 Filipinos who died in Kuwait since 2016, 155 were due to medical reasons, 14 were due to accidents, 22 committed suicide, and five were due to unknown reasons.
OWWA shared the data during Wednesday's hearing at the Senate regarding the killing of Joanna Demafelis in Kuwait and the deployment ban that resulted from that incident.
Demafelis, a domestic helper, was found dead in a freezer in an unoccupied apartment unit in Kuwait two weeks ago, months after her family in the Philippines reported her missing to authorities.
The same OWWA data also showed that in 2017 alone, 1,549 Filipino workers abroad reported to have been maltreated by their employers. It also said 65 Filipinos were raped while 243 others were sexually abused.
Kuwait had earlier said that the case of Demafelis was an isolated incident.
Senator Cynthia Villar said Wednesday's Senate probe was conducted to review and develop the government's policies on ensuring the safety of OFWs while in their host countries.
"We are having this hearing para magde-develop tayo ng policy based on what we have experienced," she said. "I hope we can make the necessary changes sa policy natin."
The hearing tackled the "kafala" or sponsorship system, which presidential adviser on OFW and Muslim concerns Abdullah Mama-o said should be abolished; and the alleged slow response of Philippine officials to reports of missing and abused OFWs, among others. —KBK, GMA News