By Jeffrey Damicog
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are being blamed for their failure to monitor the status of slain overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Demafelis.
“Ang liability po talaga ngayon is already with the POEA and the OWWA po (the liability is with POEA and OWWA),” lawyer Jude Marfil, the legal counsel of Mary Gay Abrantes who is the former assistant general manager of the now closed Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources Inc.
Abrantes and her lawyer was again at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) today after already submitting yesterday a sworn statement about the deployment of Demafelis.
Abrantes’ name got dragged into the issue as she was identified as the person who processed the papers of Demafelis for deployment to Kuwait on May 18, 2014 for a two-year contract.
“Legal po ang pagpapaalis kay Ms. Joana Demafelis (She is legally deployed),” Marfil said.
However, Mt. Carmel’s license got revoked by the POEA in January 2015 and was forced to shut down.
“Kasi ang taga-issue po ng license or authority ay ang POEA to recruit, to place (The POEA is the one which issues licenses or authority to recruit, to place OFWs),” the lawyer said.
“So nung ni-revoke na po nila ang lisensya ng ahensya, therefore babalik sa principal ang obligasyon at duty to overlook to monitor (Since Mt. Carmel’s license got revoked, the duty to monitor OFWs is returned to the POEA),” he explained.
Marfil said this provision is specifically mentioned under Section 14 of the Migrant Workers Act which requires the POEA to conduct quarterly monitoring.
NBI National Capital Region (NCR) regional director Cesar Bacani earlier said Demafelis could not longer renew her contract with Mt. Carmel in 2016 since the company has already closed.
Bacani said investigators are looking into as to whom she sought help to get a new employer in Kuwait in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has reported that two principal suspects in the death of the Demafelis are now in the custody by authorities of Beirut and Damascus.
The two suspects are identified as Nader Essam Assaf who is in Beirut and his wife Mona Hassoun who is in Damascus.
Demafelis worked as maid for the couple but was found in February by authorities inside the freezer of the couple’s apartment in Kuwait. The apartment has been abandoned since November 2016.
The death of Demafelis is what pushed the President to impose a ban against the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait.