THE second suspect in the brutal murder of overseas Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis is now in the
custody of authorities in Syria, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday night.
“We have just been informed by the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait that Mona Hassoun, wife of
Nader Essam Assaf, who are the principal suspects in the murder of our kababayan Joanna Demafelis,
is now in custody of authorities in Damascus,” Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.
Mona was arrested in Syria a day after his husband Nader Essam was nabbed.
With the two suspects now in custody, the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment
will follow President Duterte’s instructions to vigorously pursue justice for Demafelis, Cayetano
The DFA chief said the husband, who is a Lebanese national, was immediately turned over to
Lebanese authorities. On the other hand Mona, who is a Syrian citizen, remains in Damascus.
The two were taken into custody after Kuwaiti authorities requested the assistance of
Interpol in locating and arresting them.
A manhunt for Assaf and his wife was launched after Kuwaiti authorities discovered early
this month the battered body of Demafelis inside a freezer in the couple’s abandoned apartment unit
more than a year after her family reported her missing.
Duterte has vowed to bring justice to Demafelis’s family, lashing out at Gulf state Kuwait
and alleging Arab employers routinely rape Filipina workers, force them to work 21 hours a day and
feed them scraps.
Kuwait has said it is investigating reported deaths and abuses, and insisted there were only
a small number considering that there are more than 250,000 Filipinos working in the emirate.
Duterte this week sent a team of labor officials to Kuwait to seek greater protection for