Two more Philippine Embassy officials recalled over maid’s death

Embassy has repatriated 2,500 – 80 to 100 people arrive to the embassy daily

KUWAIT: Filipino nationals wait outside their country’s embassy building yesterday as they prepare to leave Kuwait and avail an amnesty for illegal residents. — Photos by Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Two more Philippine Embassy officials in Kuwait were recalled in connection with the death of Filipino housemaid Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer in a Maidan Hawally apartment two weeks ago. Labor Attache to Kuwait Attorney Alex Padaen and his assistant Lily Pearl Guerero were asked to return to Manila on Monday night. Last week, another assistant labor attache at the embassy’s Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Sarah Conception was recalled for inaction when the family asked for help when they couldn’t reach Joanna. Their request was accepted by the office but little effort was exerted. “I am preparing to go back home. I cannot speak anymore on behalf of POLO,” said Padaen yesterday when asked if he could comment on the repatriation of about 610 Filipinos yesterday as part of amnesty by the Kuwaiti government.

The recall order was confirmed by Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Rene Villa. “Yes, they were recalled, but I am not privy to the order. But if it is the case, I humbly request the Manila office to immediately send their replacements, because we need people on the ground to help us due to the amnesty and the labor ban. Approximately 80 to 100 people arrive daily. Although five people from POLO and three from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) have arrived from Manila to help, we still need permanent officials who will represent POLO in Kuwait,” he added.

According to Villa, 2,500 Filipinos have availed of the amnesty, with around 2,500 more who want to leave. “We have applications pouring in everyday and we hope they will be cleared soon so they can go back home,” he said. “From our side, we want all Filipinos staying illegally to avail of the amnesty,” he said. A total of six buses transported the 610 Filipinos to the airport yesterday. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte provided free chartered flights by Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific at 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm respectively.

Asked for the confirmation of Duterte’s visit, the ambassador said the invitation was received on Monday from HH the Amir, but no confirmation has been given. “I asked about it in Manila – they said they have just received the invite, and there is no reply yet from Malacanang Palace if the invite has been accepted. But one thing is for sure – Kuwait is very serious on addressing the labor problems and communication is now coming from the highest officials of the Kuwaiti government. So yes, we are happy on the new development,” the ambassador concluded.

By Ben Garcia

This article was published on 20/02/2018