PH to Kuwait: Treat Filipinos as you would treat your nationals

MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday reminded Kuwait of its obligation under international law to treat foreigners in its country the way it treats its own nationals. 

This amid reports of abuse against Filipino domestic workers in the Gulf state, which had prompted a Philippine deployment ban and a repatriation program.

“I would like to remind Kuwait authorities of the standards by which aliens should be treated in their territory,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a news conference.

“Under international law, each country is bound to give to the nationals of another country in its territory the benefits of the same laws, the same administration, the same protection, and the same redress for injury which it gives its own citizens, neither more nor less," said the official, an international law expert. 

Ties between the Philippines and Kuwait have been frayed amid the Duterte administration's recent efforts to protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Gulf state following a string of deaths of Philippine migrants. 

President Rodrigo Duterte recently ordered a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait and encouraged those still working there to go back home under the government’s repatriation program.

His criticism of the abuse of migrant workers escalated with the discovery of the body of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis, who was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait. She was last seen alive in September 2016. Initial investigation found signs of abuse.

Kuwait has been displeased by Duterte’s recent tirades, with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah saying the President's remarks came as a surprise.

"We condemn statements from the Philippine president, especially as we are in contact with the Philippine authorities on a high level to explain the workers’ conditions in Kuwait.”

"Escalation does not serve the ties between Kuwait and the Philippines," Sheikh Sabah said, adding that 170,000 Filipinos "live a decent life in Kuwait. 

"But separate accidents unfortunately happen, and we are providing our Filipino counterparts with the results of the investigations," he said. 

Roque, in response to the Kuwaiti top diplomat’s comments, said it is Duterte’s duty to ensure that Filipinos in foreign lands are well protected.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines Saleh Ahmad Alhwaikh are set to meet Thursday to discuss the issue.

“Secretary Cayetano was tasked to get a commitment from Kuwait on how to protect Filipino nationals in Kuwait,” Roque said.

Expatriates selling foam during the National Days festivities will be deported

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Kuwait Municipality has warned Kuwaiti and expatriate shop owners and hawkers who make brisk business by selling or advertising foam during the National Days festivities to abandon the idea.

According to Al-Rai dail, the Municipality will enforce the stiffests penalty against perpetrators of the act. Expatriates found culpable will be deported, noting files could be referred to the Public Authority for Manpower to close down concerned shops in case the expatriates aren’t deported.

The report said that the Municipality has categorized those who are involved in the sale of foam into three. The first category is a worker who sells the contraband at investment or commercial complexes. The seller in this case will be held responsible for the violation rather than owner of the property.

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Hawkers fall into the second category, and if caught in the act, their sponsors will be invited to arrange for their deportation.

“The last entails children who are still regarded as minor; therefore, their sponsors will be invited for investigation”.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS WANTS PH EMBASSY TO HOLD PASSPORTS OF KUWAIT OFWS

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Manila: The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is proposing that passports of domestic workers in Kuwait should remain with the Philippine Embassy to prevent abuse.” If the employee holds it, if they leave their employer but they stay in Kuwait, they’ll be liable to the Kuwaiti government. So as a middle ground, responsible officers in the embassy may hold the passports.

He said the practice of some employers in Kuwait to hold the worker’s passports prevent Filipinos from leaving and report abuses.
Cayetano listed some of the commonly reported problems experienced by Filipino workers in Kuwait:

-Underpayment
-Delayed or non-payment of salaries
-Non-payment of overtime
-Prolonged working hours
-Transfer of one worker from employer to employer
-Transfer of OFW from Kuwait to another country in the Gulf Cooperation Council without worker’s consent

The DFA Chief also said they are in talks with their Kuwaiti counterparts to address the issues.
Cayetano added the payout system for domestic workers should be through automated teller machine (ATM) cards.
” At least when it’s in the ATMs, in the banks, there’s an electronic record so we’ll see if they get paid or not.”
Cayetano also opened the idea of an international hotline for migrant workers to use so that their concerns will be immediately addressed.

KUWAIT VOWS TO BRING JOANNE’S KILLERS TO JUSTICE AS MURDERED OFW MAKES FINAL JOURNEY HOME

 

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OFW found dead in freezer in Kuwait suffered grave physical abuse - PH envoy

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 15) — Domestic worker Joanna Demafelis suffered severe physical abuse before she died, her body found inside a freezer in her employer's home in Kuwait possibly more than a year later, a foreign affairs official said Thursday.

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa said results of the autopsy on Demafelis would be released next week, but initial finding showed she was beaten several times before she died.

"Nabanggit ng forensic doctor na Kuwaiti na ang sanhi ng kanyang pagkamatay ay broken ribs, internal bleeding, at contusions at trauma sa kaniyang katawan, kabilang ang pelvis at kidneys," Villa said in a Viber video call from Kuwait with CNN Philippines .

[Translation: The Kuwaiti forensic doctor said she died due to broken ribs, internal bleeding, contusions and trauma in her body, including her pelvis and kidneys.]

He said forensic doctor revealed the 29-year-old domestic worker was continuously maltreated.

"Ang pambubugbog sa kanya ay hindi raw nangyari ng isang beses lamang. Continous daw ang pagmaltrato sa kanya, ayon sa kanilang findings," Villa said.

Authorities said Demafelis' body may have been kept inside the freezer since November 2016, when her employers left Kuwait. Her body was found after a Kuwaiti court ordered authorities to open the apartment because the Lebanese employer, Nader Essam Assaf, was wanted for cases related to falsified checks.

'Employers covered up her death'

The Philippine envoy said Demafelis' employers reported to Kuwaiti Immigration in 2016 that she had left their apartment. 

'Yun siguro ay kanilang ginawa para pagtakpan ang kanilang ginawang krimen," he said.

[Translation: Maybe they did that to conceal their crime.]

Villa said it would be easier to find the Lebanese employer and his Syrian wife if they were in Lebanon.  The search would be difficult, however, if the couple went Syria because of the ongoing civil war in that country, he noted.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano was meeting with the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines on Thursday afternoon.

He explained that under international law, the Kuwaiti government is obliged to provide justice to Filipino workers in that country who are abused by their employers.

The death of Demafelis and seven other overseas Fililpino workers prompted the government to ban the deployment of  workers to Kuwait.

Demafelis' remains will arrive in the Philippines on Friday.

Labor chief orders removal of welfare officer in Kuwait for Demafelis' case oversight

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 15) — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III won't accept excuses for the oversight on the case of the slain OFW in Kuwait.

Overseas worker welfare officer Maria Sarah Concepcion explained in a letter that it is impossible for her to accommodate all requests for assistance from Filipinos working in Kuwait or their families. She said they receive an average of 15 requests for assistance daily.

"No matter how hardworking and efficient a person can be, under the present system, it is humanly impossible for one person to be able to manage all the emails received at post especially when one needs to multitask," her explanation letter read.

She said this is why she failed to act promptly on the case of 29-year-old Joanna Demafelis, the overseas Filipino worker who was found dead in a freezer in Kuwait.

Despite Concepcion's explanation, Bello has ordered her removal from her post.

"Masyado raw maraming trabaho. Eh palagay ko that's not a good explanation. Kung hindi mo kaya, umalis ka," he said on Thursday.

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The Labor Secretary earlier demanded an explanation from Concepcion and Labor Attache in Kuwait Alejandro Padaen following claims of the Demafelis family that their case was ignored by Philippine authorities.

Padaen, in his response, explained he assumed his post three weeks after his office received the Demafelis case in February 7, 2017. He added the case had been referred to Concepcion by his predecessor.

Bello said he has to find out whether his explanation is reasonable or not because he was new in his post.

Prior to the Demafelis case, seven other Filipino housemaids were reported dead in Kuwait.

President Rodrigo Duterte has lashed out at Kuwait and ordered the issuance of a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to the gulf state.

Kuwait's foreign affairs minister condemned the move and said this could damage ties between the two countries.

But Bello said the welfare of Filipino workers is their priority.

"Lagay niya sarili niya dun kay presidente natin makita mo ang isang national mo pina-plantsa o kaya ginagawang ice cream. I think he would also react same way our president acted," he said.

Bello said he met with Kuwait's Ambassador to the Philippines who expressed a sense of urgency in pushing through with the signing of a memorandum of agreement that will give Filipino workers greater protection in Kuwait. He is hopeful the deal will be signed sooner than later. There are 136,000 documented overseas Filipinos working in Kuwait.

He added the signing of the deal could lead to the lifting of the ban on workers deployment to Kuwait.

CONTRACTS OF EXPATS WHO REACH THE AGE OF 65 TO BE TERMINATED

Kuwait’s Civil Service Commission (CSC) has announced a cap on the age of foreign workers in Kuwait, It directed all ministries and government departments to terminate the contracts of expatriates who have reached the age of 65.
Ministries, government departments and public enterprises are still allowed to rehire the same expatriate where work needs dictate.

the new measure would apply to legal advisors working with ministries, except those under contract with the Ministry of Justice and the Directorate of Legal Opinion and Legislation.

16 months in the refrigerator: shocking information about the Lebanese and his wife .. Where are they?

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Some details of the crime that caused a problem between Kuwait and the Philippines are still unclear, but it is certain that the Philippines will not send workers from their country after today, after the shocking news of finding one of the country's girls killed in Kuwait by accident!

Was murdered 16 months ago. The Filipino girl, who worked in a Lebanese house and his Syrian wife, was killed and placed in a refrigerator before leaving their home and leaving Kuwait. They recorded the disappearance of their maid at the police.

The body belonged to the Filipino Joanna Daniela "29 years" remained all that time in the abandoned apartment, according to medical tests have been tortured, and killed suffocating.

According to sources in the Interior Ministry, the 40-year-old Lebanese and his 37-year-old Syrian wife have been circulated to INTERPOL. They have been involved in a case other than murder. They have fled since 2016 after accumulating debts and signing checks with no balance.

They disappeared all that time from the owner of the apartment they rent to pay them to enter the house to demand their rent. He was surprised by the remains of the body of Joanna the Filipino, whose disappearance was reported two days before he left the country.

It seems that the first stop to escape the couple was to the country of the husband in Lebanon, specifically in the area of Budai, which is away from Baalbek 70 km, according to statements to his family.

"He has a strong and dominant personality and has a great role in distinguishing between her husband and his parents," said his aunt. "His news is broken, so we discovered he left Kuwait, now in Damascus."

All his relatives in Lebanon have agreed that his latest news indicates that he is in Syria, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai.

On the other hand, Joanna's family was shocked by her death. She has seven brothers who sold a plot of land they own in order to save her money to work in Kuwait in 2014.

While her family denied any information about Joanna's torture, one of her friends said otherwise, asserting that the Lebanese husband was beating her, starving her, even that he was not paying her the agreed money.

"The Philippine government may reconsider its decision if Kuwait signs a memorandum of understanding guaranteeing the protection of overseas Filipino workers," he said.

Joanna Demafelis – Autopsy Report Died Due To The Severe Beating

Joanna Demafelis, the Filipino worker found in a freezer in Kuwait, died due to the severe beating she suffered allegedly at the hands of her employer, the Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait said Wednesday, citing the autopsy report.

Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa said based on the autopsy report, Demafelis had several broken ribs and contusion and trauma in the pelvis and kidney area. She also suffered from internal bleeding  as per the report on GMA News 

Demafelis body with the Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa

Several wounds were also found on Demafelis’ body, which is expected to be repatriated to the Philippines on Friday, February 16.

“Sinabi rin niya na ‘yung beating sa kanya (Demafelis) o pagmaltrato ay hindi nangyari sa isang beses lang kundi, kumbaga, madalas siyang binubugbog,” Villa said.

The autopsy also showed that Demafelis, who last communicated with her family in the Philippines in September 2016, was already dead when she was put inside the freezer in November 2016.

The body was found by Kuwaiti authorities last week in an unoccupied apartment unit with the freezer still running.

Villa, citing investigation, said Demafelis’ employers, a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife, hid the body in the freezer before fleeing the apartment.

 

“Kasi ang nangyari pala ganito. Ang employer, ‘di ba umalis sila, sumibat sila ng Kuwait? Bago sila umalis gusto nilang pagtakpan ‘yung kanilang ginawa,” Villa said, adding the employers reported to authorities that Demafelis had escaped.

“Ni-report pa nila si Joanna na nag-abscond o tumakas sa bahay nila noong November 6, 2016,” Villa said.

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.

The discovery of Demafelis’ body prompted the Philippine government to ban the deployment of new workers to Kuwait. Prior to the ban, the deployment was suspended due to reports of abuses on Filipino workers.

On Wednesday afternoon, Villa went to Al-Sabah Hospital to view Demafelis’ remains as part of the Philippine Embassy’s preparations for the repatriation.

Villa said he was again assured by Kuwaiti authorities that they are doing their best to locate and arrest Demafelis’ former employers.

See below video :

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Kuwait Domestic Helper Cries for Help after Being Beaten Up by Female Employer Because of Jealousy

 

Originally posted by QuervyzheanArtiza, a certain Maria Corazon shared on social media the story of an OFW working in Kuwait named MindaLngka Polo who was asking for immediate help. Maria shared a photo showing the blooded face of Minda who was allegedly beaten by her female employer.

According to the post, the employer had beaten the OFW for feeling jealous with Minda and her husband.  She also confiscated Minda’scellphone so she may not be able to ask help from relatives and friends.  Luckily, the OFW had kept a spare phone which she used to share her photo after she was beaten up as she appealed for help on social media.

Quirvyzhean appealed to the public that her post be shared for Minda’s story to be known to many and be rescued from the hands of her employers.

After her story went viral on social media  Maria Corazon is rescued and safe now. Thanks to ATN Officer of Embassy in Kuwait