THE Justice Department on Monday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the local recruiters of Joanna Demafelis, the maid who was killed in Kuwait allegedly by her employers and then stuffed in a freezer.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered the agency to determine the liabilities of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources Inc., the agency that recruited Demafelis.
He gave his order even as Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa said they already had a lead on the whereabouts of Demafelis’ recruiters.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had earlier said Demafelis’ recruiters would be held accountable for negligence.
Demafelis had been missing for more than a year before her body was found in an apartment in Kuwait.
Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he was supporting the Labor Department’s recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte to form an anti-illegal recruitment task force.
He said he would be backing that move “if such would improve the conviction rate on illegal recruitment cases, which in 2016 was a dismal 5.3 percent.”
Recto said of the 736 cases disposed by state prosecutors that year, only 39 ended in a conviction while 211 were dismissed, 438 were archived, 23 resulted in acquittals and 25 were resolved through mediation.
“Six in 10 were archived and three in 10 were dismissed. Not exactly a good record,” Recto said.
Aguirre required the NBI to “conduct an investigation and case buildup [on] the possible liabilities of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources Inc. in relation to the death of Demafelis.”
He also ordered the bureau to file the appropriate charges against the company “if the evidence so warrants.”
Mona Hassoun, a Syrian, and her Lebanese husband Nader Essam Assaf are the principal suspects in the murder of Demafelis, 29, an Iloilo native who had served as their maid.
Both are said to have been arrested.
The discovery of Demafelis’ body in an apartment in Kuwait City, where it had reportedly been kept for more than a year, sparked outrage and refocused attention on the plight of the poor Filipinas working mainly as maids abroad.
The case prompted President Duterte to ban the deployment of new Filipino workers to Kuwait, where many abuses have been reported.