The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sought stricter monitoring of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) against abuses and slavery after news broke out last week about a Filipino housemaid whose lifeless body was discovered inside her employers’ freezer in an apartment in Kuwait.
In a statement, CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana reiterated that the government should assure that OFWs are to be deployed only to countries where their rights as migrant workers are respected and protected, as stated in Republic Act 10022 or the Migrant Workers’ Act.
“The law is very clear. For it to be properly implemented, we need stronger and sustainable partnerships between and among the government and the private sector as well as civil society and OFW groups to ensure that migrant workers’ rights are being monitored,” Gana said.
The rights commission also extended its sympathies to the family of OFW Joanna Demafelis, the Filipino maid whose body was brought home to the country on Friday.
Demafelis, who worked as a housemaid in Kuwait, died a year ago.
Her body was found in the freezer in the apartment rented by a Lebanese and Syrian couple.
The two, who used to be Demafelis’ employers, remain at large.
“That her employers subjected her to physical torture prior to freezing and abandoning her body for more than a year reveal the kind of risks that our OFWs, particularly domestic workers overseas, are confronted with. We must always remember Joanna and other victims like her so that our resolve to undertake reforms remains strong and unwavering,” Gana said.
She noted that distressed workers “who may be suffering from mental and emotional anguish” after they were repatriated from Kuwait should seek psychosocial services and medical attention.