Solon on Demafelis case: Kuwait gov’t ‘not in position’ to enforce death sentence on employers
A partylist lawmaker on Wednesday expressed fears that the death sentence in absentia handed by a court in Kuwait to the employers of murdered overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Demafelis was just an attempt to “pacify” the public’s rage over her death.
ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III also questioned the legitimacy and the effect of the court decision, saying “the Kuwaiti government is not in the position to enforce the judgement.”
“The husband is Lebanese and is in Lebanon, while the wife is Syrian and is in Syria. Both Lebanon and Syria are separate states from Kuwait. No sovereign state will send its own citizen to another country just to be executed,” he said in a press conference.
“We are not even sure if the husband is in fact in custody in Lebanon,” he added.
As to the Syrian wife, Bertiz said she is still at large in Syria, which he said is beset by civil war and has porous borders.
“There’s no telling where she is now and the authorities there will not bother looking for her, considering the chaos there,” he said.
Bertiz said government should not lift its total deployment ban to Kuwait just because of the Kuwait court decision.
“Baka pinapakalma lang po ang isipan ng ating mga mamamayan lalo na ng ating gobyerno… Marami pang dapat pag-aralan para makita kung makakamit talaga ang hustisya,” he said.
“Karamihan ng lumalabas na report from Kuwait, bakit wala tayo report from Lebanon authority, news agencies? Bakit walang copy of mug shot?” he asked.
“Ang nakakatakot kasi nyan baka yung sinabi na mga nahuli na hindi pa pala. Baka ginagawa lang tayong uto-uto ng Kuwaiti government (to lift the ban),” he added.
Meanwhile, Susan “Toots” Ople from the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, echoed Bertiz’ call not to lift the deployment ban right away.
Ople suggested that the government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), send a special emissary who would bring President Rodrigo Duterte’s letter to the Kuwaiti government, expressing his desire to seek justice for Demafelis.
“Yung ban sa domestic workers hindi muna dapat i-lift unless merong operational reforms din sa pipirmahang bilateral labor agreement between Kuwait and the Philippines,” she added.
More than a year after she was reported missing, Demafelis’ body bore torture marks and was found stashed in a freezer in the apartment of her Lebanese employer in Kuwait last February.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III then announced the total deployment ban of workers to Kuwait.
Last Monday, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the ban “still holds” until an agreement ensuring the protection of OFWs be sealed between the two countries.
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