KUWAIT CITY, Feb 15: The remains of Joanna Daniela Demafelis, the Filipina household service worker whose body was found inside the freezer, were flown to Manila on Thursday on board Gulf Air. Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa viewed the remains of Joanna on Wednesday at the Al Sabah Hospital mortuary before the body was repatriated on Thursday.
“According to the initial findings of the Kuwait Forensic team at the Criminal Evidence Department, Joanna suffered broken ribs, internal bleeding, contusion, trauma resulting in to her death. The official autopsy report will be forwarded to us by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs next week,” disclosed Villa to the Arab Times.
Joanna’s body was found inside a freezer by Kuwaiti authorities on Feb 6. She worked as a housemaid for a Lebanese employer and his Syrian wife. The Interpol upon the request of Kuwaiti authorities has launched a manhunt to arrest the suspects who fled Kuwait in November 2016. “I’m still in shock. I’ve been crying after learning what happened to Joanna,” shared Shirley Demafelis, a cousin of the deceased who also works as a household service worker in Kuwait, however she is lucky to have a good employer.
“They have been very good to me. After two years, I renewed my contract with them but after what happened to Joanna, I have decided to go home,” stated Shirley.
Meanwhile, Villa was called to the Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday to explain the diplomatic protest handed by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs to the Kuwait Ambassador to the Philippines strongly condemning the abuses committed against some Filipino nationals in Kuwait followed by the strong statement of President Duterte. “We have both agreed to sit down and talk about the current situation and to ensure the full protection of our Filipino nationals,” stated Villa as the joint bilateral talks between Kuwait the Philippines is set to be held next week.
On the other hand, the total ban on the deployment of newly hired Filipino workers to Kuwait ordered by the Philippines Department of Labour and Employment, following instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte in pursuit of national interest and due to the series of reports of abuse and death of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stays.
However, the ban does not include: workers who are vacationing in the Philippines and will be returning to the same employer to finish their contracts, at the end of his/ her vacation; Balik Manggagawa workers who are returning to Kuwait on a new contract with the same employer; and Seafarers who will be transiting through or boarding in Kuwait to join their principals.
Meanwhile, the repatriation of undocumented OFWs continues under the Kuwait amnesty program that started on January 29, 2018. More than 1,000 amnesty applicants have gone home to the Philippines this week. There are around 10,000 undocumented Filipino workers in Kuwait based on the records of the Ministry of Interior and the embassy is targeting to repatriate at least 7,000 undocumented OFWs. The Ministry of Interior has already issued more than 2,000 exit clearances to those who applied for amnesty.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff