DFA: Body of OFW found in freezer in Kuwait returning to PH on Feb. 16

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 15) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the body of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis, who was found dead in a freezer in Kuwait, will return to the Philippines on Friday morning.

"Galing po kami sa mortuary sa ospital para ayusin po ang pag-uwi ng labi ng ating kababayan na si Joanna Demafelis at darating po siya ng Biyernes sa Manila mga alas-onse ng umaga," said Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa in a DFA video posted Wednesday night.

[Translation: We just came from the hospital mortuary to prepare the remains of Joanna Demafelis and she will arrive in Manila on Friday at around 11 a.m.]

Villa added that he spoke to officials of the Kuwait Ministry of Interior to seek justice for Demafelis.

"Kanilang binanggit na talagang pagsisikapan nilang mahuli yung Lebanese na gumawa ng krimen pati yung kanyang Syrian na asawa," he said. "Na-shock din ang buong Kuwait sa krimeng ito at tindi ang galit nila sa nangyaring ito."

[Translation: They mentioned that they will really strive to capture the Lebanese suspect and his Syrian wife. The whole of Kuwait was shocked and angered by this crime.]

Death leads to deployment ban

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III identified the 29-year-old Demafelis as the body found inside a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait, where it may have been kept for over a year.

Read: Body of Filipina found in freezer in Kuwait

Authorities said Demafelis had torture marks on her body and there were indications she was strangled to death.

Initial investigation showed Joanna's Lebanese employer, Nader Essam Assaf, is wanted for cases related to falsified cheques.

Outrage from Demafelis' death prompted President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday to order the Labor Department to bring home distressed OFWs in Kuwait within 72 hours.

Read: Duterte wants distressed OFWs home from Kuwait in 72 hours

In addition, the government on Monday imposed a total deployment ban to OFWs in Kuwait, although workers on vacation in the country, rehired workers and passing seafarers are exempted.

Read: Gov't issues exemptions to ban on Kuwait-bound workers

On Tuesday, Duterte slammed Kuwait for mistreating Filipino workers.

"Anong nagawa ng Pilipinas sa'yo? Nagsisilbi, inaabuso ninyo. Pinagsasasampal ninyo. Alam mo, Kuwait, ang mundo umiikot ha. Minsan 'yan mabilis masyado, baka mag-abot yan ng tinatawag na karma. When that time comes, you will remember us," he said in a speech.

[Translation: What has the Philippines done for you? We serve you, yet you abuse and slap us. You know, the world spins fast. Sometimes, it's too fast, and karma may catch up to you. When that time comes, you will remember us.]

Kuwait's Foreign Minister on Wednesday denounced Duterte's remarks.

Read: Kuwaiti foreign minister condemns Duterte's criticisms

"We actually condemn the statements of the President of the Philippines," said Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah.

"We are communicating with the President of the Philippines and the Minister of Foreign Affairs after being read to try and explain the conditions of work of all Philippines workers," he added.