THE remains of ill-fated overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Daniela Demafelis, whose body was found stored in a freezer in Kuwait, returned home yesterday.
Her sister Jessica received the remains that arrived in a casket at 9:47 a.m. yesterday from Kuwait via Bahrain on board a Gulf Air flight.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and other high-ranking officials also met the body at the Pair Cargo warehouse near NAIA terminal.
Reports have it that Demafelis’ body bore marks which indicate that she was subjected to severe physical abuse. Although it was found by Kuwaiti authorities in an abandoned apartment only recently, her body was reportedly had been in a freezer since November 2016.
An autopsy done on her reportedly showed that Demafelis suffered broken ribs as well as internal bleeding and contusion and trauma in the pelvis and the kidney areas.
Her last communication with her family in the Philippines was in September 2016. She worked as a maid for a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife, who reported that she escaped on November 6, 2016, before they left the apartment and fled Kuwait.
The case upset President Rodrigo Duterte, who was prompted to ban the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait.
President Duterte is set to visit the wake of Demafelis.
The remains of the OFW are scheduled to be flown to her hometown in Sara, Iloilo Saturday morning.
Dimafelis’ uncle, Pablo, said government officials have already advised them of Duterte’s visit to their place in Iloilo even as security officials have already assured necessary security arrangements are already in place around their residence where the remains will be laid in Sitio Cordero, Sara.
No fixed date however was given although reports said Duterte’s visit will be made anytime.
It was learned that local government officials including officials of OWWA and DFA will join the visit in Iloilo.
Pablo is thankful to the government especially to Duterte for ensuring their welfare and the immediate investigation into the death of Joanna.
“Nagpapasalamat hindi lang po sa embahada natin doon sa Kuwait, sa buong gobyerno rin natin lalo na kay President Duterte. Naramdaman at nakita din namin yong pagtulong nila para mapabilis yong imbistigasyon at yong pag-verify ng labi ng pamangkin ko. Nakikita namin na di rin kami pinababayaan ng gobyerno,” Pablo said.
OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) are conducting an internal investigation of the officials whom Demafelis’ family approached to look into her disappearance in early 2017.
Based on records, her family officially reported her disappearance in February 2017 although they began asking for information with the POEA as early as December 2016.
Manhunt operations have already been launched by Kuwaiti law enforcement authorities against Demafelis’ former employers. Kuwait’s Minister of Interior has asked Interpol to look for the couple in Lebanon and Syria.
Authorities are also investigating members of the employment agency who deployed the Filipina in 2015.
Demafelis entered Kuwait with proper documentation but lost support from her employment agency when its license to operate was suspended.