DOLE lauds Kuwait’s conviction of Demafelis employers

MANILA The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) lauded Kuwait's fast action on the conviction of the employers of slain overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Demefelis.

Definitely. This is a case of a sweet and swift justice and we do appreciate the effort of the Kuwaiti government,said Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, when asked about his reaction on the latest news on the case of the OFW, who was found inside a freezer in Kuwait City last February.

He noted that the death sentence meted by a Kuwaiti court on Nader Essam Assaf, a Lebanese national and his wife, Mona, a Syrian, was confirmed to him by Kuwait Ambassador to the Philippines Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh.

About 9:30 this morning, I made a call to Ambassador Althwaikh. He confirmed the conviction and he confirmed that the penalty imposed was the capital punishment by hanging, he said in a press briefing on Monday.

Asked if he thinks that the two were convicted in absentia, the DOLE chief said, We need to ask the justice system of Kuwait. We don't know if we have the same justice system.

On the other hand, Bello admitted that it is not yet certain if the latest development may lead to the lifting of the total deployment ban on OFWs to the Arab state.

You know when we declared a total ban on the deployment of overseas workers in Kuwait, President Rodrigo Duterte said that we will only consider lifting the ban if they meet two conditions. One, that there's a signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Philippines and Kuwait and the second condition is that Joanna Demafelis is given justice, he said.

Assuming that justice was given to Joanna, we still need a signed MOA. Assuming that the MOA was signed will there be an automatic lifting of the ban? I have to tell you that I will study the possibility of recommending to the president a partial lifting of the total deployment ban in respect to skilled workers, Bello added.

He revealed that he already sent his suggestion for approval of the MOA, to Duterte.

We already have a consensus on the final draft of the MOA and I sent my recommendation to the president for his approval. The moment the president approves it then it will be ready for signing, Bello added.

The final draft of the MOA was approved by the Philippine and Kuwait labor officials last month, which aims to protect OFWs in the host country.

Among the provisions that were agreed upon by both parties include allowing OFWs to either keep their passports or surrender it to the Philippine Embassy or Philippine Overseas Labor Office for safekeeping and giving them access to mobile phones for them to be able to communicate with their families.

Source: Philippine News Agency