MANILA – The body of Joanna Demafelis, a Filipino domestic worker who was found inside a freezer in Kuwait, was repatriated to the Philippines on Friday.
Grieving relatives, including her sister Jessica, as well as the Philippine Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano, were at Manila’s international airport as Demafelis’ remains arrived by transport plane, an epa journalist reported.
Jessica was distraught and tried to hold onto the coffin containing her sister’s body, as onlookers comforted her.
“We need to wake up ourselves, and wake up some of the host governments,” Cayetano said, adding that the Philippines and Kuwait “were going through a very rocky period. We have had very good relations with them. There are going to be some firm commitments, and some resolutions.”
Demafelis’ body was found on Feb. 7 inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait, according to the Philippine News Agency.
Authorities believe it had been in the storage unit for more than a year.
The 29-year-old woman was employed as a domestic worker in the Gulf state.
The Philippines’ Department of Labor chief, Silvestre Bello III, said on Saturday that Kuwaiti authorities were working with Interpol and were expected to detain the Lebanese and Syrian suspects, who were reportedly the Filipino overseas worker’s (OFW) employers.
“The authorities said they will arrest the couple in the next few days because they know the latter’s address in Lebanon, and they used Interpol,” Bello said.
The minister added that President Rodrigo Duterte was “really affected because of the huge number of Filipinos who died and those who committed suicide.”
On Monday, Cayetano announced that 377 Filipinos working in Kuwait, most of them women, would be returning home, “the first of hundreds to heed the president’s call” to return in order to “escape further maltreatment abroad.”
Duterte intends to visit the wake of the victim, which is due to last two weeks in Demafelis’ hometown of Iloilo, said Shelly Mae Solis, an Overseas Workers Welfare officer.