DOLE welcomes conviction by a Kuwaiti court of former employers of slain OFW

Published April 2, 2018, 6:20 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Leslie Ann Aquino

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today welcomed the conviction by a Kuwaiti court of the former employers of slain overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Demafelis.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./Presidential Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./Presidential Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

“This is a case of a sweet and swift justice and we do appreciate the effort of the Kuwaiti government,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a press briefing.

He said the death sentence indicates the “sincerity and good faith” of the Kuwaiti government in giving justice to Demafelis.

According to the labor chief, he was able to confirm the report of the conviction of the suspects with Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh this morning.

“He confirmed the conviction and he confirmed that the penalty imposed was the capital penalty of hanging,” Bello said.

Asked if the said development would now result in the lifting of the total deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait, the labor chief reiterated what President Duterte said in the past.

“The President said we will only consider lifting the deployment ban if they meet two conditions. One, that there’s a signed memorandum of agreement (on the protection of overseas workers) between the Philippines and Kuwait. Second is that Joana Demafelis is given justice,” Bello said.

“Assuming the satisfaction of the justice for Joanna, we still need the MOA,” he added.

To recall, the Philippines and Kuwait already agreed on the final draft of the MOA last month but it has yet to be signed.

And the signing of the MOU would not also result in the automatic lifting of the total deployment ban, said Bello.

“Will there be an automatic lifting? I have to tell you that I will study the possibility of recommending to the President a partial lifting of the total deployment ban. I will consider seriously the lifting of the deployment ban only in respect to skilled workers,” he said.

As to the household service workers, Bello said they still need to study this aspect.

Earlier, the Philippine government ordered a total ban on the deployment of workers to the Arab state due to rampant abuses and the death of Demafelis, the Filipina found dead in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait city in February.