The alleged recruiter and the alleged processor of the papers of slain overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Demafelis both surrendered to authorities on Thursday.
Agnes Tuballes, who surrendered to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), however, denied that she had recruited Demafelis as a domestic helper in Kuwait.
Tuballes is now under PNP custody.
Marissa Ansaji Mohammad, who surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and who allegedly was the person who processed Demafelis’ papers, is now under the bureau’s custody.
Tuballes said she merely referred Demafelis to local recruitment agency Our Lady of Mount Carmel Global E-Human Resources Inc., adding that Demafelis was only deployed to Kuwait “via” Ansaji, the agency’s secretary.
According to her, she received P13,000 from an alleged employee of Mount Carmel for referring Demafelis.
Tuballes did not identify the employee.
CIDG Director and Chief Supt. Roel Obusan, however, disputed Tuballes’ claims of her employment with Mount Carmel.
He said she was only using Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s name to recruit more Filipino women to work in the Gulf state.
Tuballes said she felt guilty for not being able to help Demafelis, although she said the family never approached her when Demafelis went missing.
A distant relative of Demafelis, she decried a news report that showed her picture and tagged her as one of those liable for Demafelis’ death.
“Gusto ko lang pong linisin ang pangalan ko mula sa iresponsableng pagre-report… binu-bully na po ang mga anak ko. Sana po kinuha muna ninyo ang side ko [I want to clear my name in that report… My children are getting bullied. I wished that the news report got my side first],” she added
Tuballes said she has been receiving threats since her name was linked to the Demafelis case.
Obusan assured that they will give Tuballes protection over the threats she has been receiving.
Tuballes said she used to work as a staff for Our Lady of Mount Carmel before she became a domestic helper in Hong Kong from 2013 to 2016.
She added that she also worked in Qatar in April 2017 and then came back to the Philippines to work as a recruitment officer at Al Madinah Manpower.
Obusan said Demafelis’ recruiter could be held liable for her death.
Demafelis’ remains were identified on February 9 after she was found inside a freezer in Kuwait with bruises and a broken hip bone.
Malacañang also on Thursday welcomed Tuballes’ decision to surrender to authorities.
According to Palace spokesman Harry Roque, such move eased the trouble of the NBI of conducting a manhunt for her.
“It is good that [Tuballes] surrendered because if she did not, she will be arrested. That is the order of the President, right after the President’s declaration [on the death of Demafelis], the President asked the NBI to summon the recruiter. It was because probably, we just wanted to find out exactly what her side is,” Roque said in Filipino in a news briefng.
He added that the surrender would finally answer questions on the employment of Demafelis.
Roque noted that the current structure of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) requires an approved contract that is duly signed by concerned parties.
The names of the parties should not be changed, he said.
“We should know who the employer really is. Why is there a change in employer if it is not reported to the POEA?” Roque said.
“It is a curious thing that the new contract [surfaced]and it is curious that in the case of Miss Demafelis, the employer is a new party. We should know and get answers [from Tuballes]on this matter,” he added.
Last Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Nader Essam Assaf and Mona Hassoun, a Lebanese-Syrian couple that are the main suspects in the OFW’s death, were arrested by the International Police (Interpol).
The crime, along with several reports of abuse among OFWs in Kuwait, led President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a ban on deployment to Kuwait.
The President, who was angered by how poorly OFWs are treated, last month threatened to extend the deployment ban to other countries.
WITH REPORT FROM RALPH U. VILLANUEVA