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Kuwaiti government vows to track and arrest OFW Joanna Demafelis’ murderers

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — At three in the afternoon local time in Kuwait, the remains of Joanna Demafelis was flown back to the Philippines.

The cadaver of the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) will arrive in Manila on Friday and will be sent home to her family in Iloilo on Saturday.

Demafelis was the Filipino migrant worker found dead in a freezer at an abandoned apartment in Kuwait.

On Wednesday, Philippine ambassador to Kuwait, Rene Villa, visited the Al-Sabah Hospital to ensure that the lifeless body of the Filipina had been prepared.

According to Ambassador Villa, the officials of the Ministry of Interior of Kuwait vowed to do all it can to capture the murder suspects,  a Lebanese national and his Syrian wife — former employers of Demafelis.

“Na-shock din ang buong Kuwait sa krimeng ito at matindi ang galit nila sa nangyaring ito at sana nga ay mahuli na, sa Lebanon man o sa Syria ang mag-asawang ito,” said Villa.

(The whole country of Kuwait was also shocked after learning about the crime. They are angry with what happened. We are hoping for the immediate arrest of the suspects whether in Lebanon or in Syria.)

In the Philippines, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) is seeking the conduct of an investigation into alleged negligence by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in connection with the death of the Filipina migrant worker.

According to one of VACC’s lawyers, Atty. Manuelito Luna, the family of the murdered OFW had sought the group’s help.

Luna revealed that the family had been seeking help from the POEA and OWWA since 2016 due to the abuse being experienced by Joanna in the hands of her employers.

But he claims the two government agencies had ignored the complaints of Joanna’s family.

“Pwede nating maligtas si Ms. Demafelis. Hindi nailigtas dahil pinasa pasa yung complaint ng pamilya. Kung ganito po ang treatment ng ating mga opsiyales sa POEA or OWWA dapat magbalot balot na sila,” said Luna.

(We could have saved Ms. Demafelis.  She was not rescued because these two agencies kept passing her family’s complaint onto someone else time and time again. If this is the quality of treatment being given by our POEA or OWWA officials, they should start packing.)

The group has asked the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to investigate the issue. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue


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DOLE announces signing of final draft of Kuwait-PH agreement on OFW rights

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2018

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III


MANILA, Philippines —  After a two-day meeting last week, the labor officials of the Philippines and Kuwait have agreed on the final draft of the bilateral agreement or the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

Kuwait has also agreed on the provisions concerning the right of OFWs to keep their passports and on issues regarding their contract.

In a message,  Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said it is possible that within two weeks, Kuwait will be able to sign the MOU between the two countries.

However, Secretary Bello will still not recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the lifting of the total deployment ban in the said Gulf state even if the MOU is signed.

The secretary said he gave two conditions for the lifting of the ban, one of which is the deliverance of justice over the death of Joanna Demafelis, the OFW who was killed and stored in a freezer.

The lifting of the ban can be reconsidered for the skilled workers but not for household service workers.

Meanwhile, some Japanese businessmen offered jobs to the labor department for the thousands of OFW repatriates from Kuwait.

“I had a meeting with some Japanese businessmen. They are targeting our repatriated overseas worker from Kuwait and they are offering jobs for their in-flight catering services. They are offering a good salary of $800. Initially, they are targeting 1,000 for a start,” said the labor chief.

Starting in May, Bello said DOLE will start deploying OFWs to Japan once contracts of the first batch of repatriates to be recruited are approved. — Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue

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POEA faces challenges in getting bilateral agreement from other countries

by UNTV   |   Posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2018

POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia on Get It Straight with Daniel Razon

MANILA, Philippines —It is a big challenge for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to have a bilateral agreement with big countries where a large number of Filipinos are working.

On the program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said they are exerting extra efforts to get the approval of other countries for the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

This is to prevent the occurrence of same abuse Joana Demafelis had experienced in Kuwait.

But POEA admitted that it is not easy to convince other countries to sign an agreement.

The show’s host, Daniel Razon commented, “In other countries, we have bilateral agreements. It would seem that the bilateral agreement is necessary because they don’t have enough laws that will protect the overseas workers.”

Olalia agreed saying, “You are right. That is challenging for us. We want to let them know that they should look into their domestic laws.”

Some of the counties that the Philippines has an agreement with are Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Germany.

Meanwhile, the undersecretary said that more than 2,000 OFWs have already been repatriated from Kuwait.

The repatriation program is still ongoing since the amnesty went into effect.

The agency is prioritizing OFWs with health problems and had been staying in shelters for quite a long time.

The agency admitted that there are OFWs who still need to stay in Kuwait because their employer filed cases against them.

“Majority of our countrymen there are saying they did not do anything wrong. Still, their employers sued them. Employers would file cases against OFWs to prevent them from leaving… but we’re helping them [OFWs] and we give them legal representation, ” said Olalia.

Meanwhile, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has opened a 24/7 command center to help OFWs around the world.

The agency once again reminds Filipinos who are planning to work abroad to directly coordinate with them to avoid getting victimized by illegal recruiters. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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NBI nabs 4 passport fixers 2 illegal recruiters

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2018

The National Bureau of Investigation presents the 4 passport fixers nabbed by the NBI-AOTCD

MANILA, Philippines — Operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD) has nabbed four alleged passport fixers in Pasay City.

Authorities caught the suspects selling passport appointment slots for  P2,500 to P6,000 at the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Aseana, Paranaque City.

They were arrested with the help of an informant who also became their victim.

Meanwhile, authorities have also arrested Annie Mallada Bermejo and Jonas Rivera for their alleged involvement in large-scale recruitment.

The two demanded P150,000 from seven golf workers in North Carolina, US for the processing of their working visas.

The suspects are not registered recruiters in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). — UNTV News & Rescue

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