SEN. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao wants the Senate to investigate the deaths of at least eight overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait since 2016 as well as the government’s labor and foreign policies in relation to the deployment of migrant workers.
He filed Resolution 626 on February 13 urging the Senate committees on Labor and Foreign Relations to conduct the probe amid the repatriation of Filipino workers in Kuwait.
President Rodrigo Duterte banned the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait following the death of Joanna Daniela Demafelis, 29, whose body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in the Al Shaab area.
Authorities revealed that Demafelis’ remains may have been in the freezer for over a year and there was a possibility that she was tortured and strangled to death.
President Rodrigo Duterte will travel to Sara town in Iloilo this week to visit the wake of Demafelis, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said on Monday.
“(We have extended) death (and burial benefits), financial assistance to the family. And I am sure the President will announce other contributions,” Roque told reporters.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) issued Administrative Order 54 on February 12 totally banning the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait.
The department is also investigating the death of seven OFWs — Liezl Truz Hukdong, Vanessa Karissha Esguerra, Marie Fe Saliling Librada, Arlene Castillo Manzano, Devine Riche Encarnacion, Patrick Sunga, and Mira Luna Juntilla. They reportedly worked as household service workers in Kuwait.
Sen. Nancy Binay, on the other hand, filed Resolution 627 on February 14 directing the proper committee to conduct an inquiry on the deployment ban to Kuwait “in the light of the tragic fate” of Demafelis.
“The gruesome story of Joanna mirrors the narrative of million other Filipinos who have sacrificed their lives to feed their families and incidentally boost our country’s economy only to be at the receiving end of abuses and maltreatment of foreign employers,” Pacquiao said.
“An inquiry and investigation must be conducted to ferret out the truth surrounding the deaths of our modern heroes, as well as reexamination of our current labor and foreign laws, with the end view of strengthening such policies and programs and establishing solid mechanisms for further protection of our OFWs rights, safety, and well-being,” he added.
An estimated 250,000 Filipinos are working in Kuwait, 75 percent of whom are household service workers. Over 400 OFWs have been repatriated since February 12.