A non-government organization (NGO) said that the death of Joanna Demafelis should serve as a wake-up call to the Philippine government to help other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who experience abuse and illegal recruitment.
Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, appealed for a new law that would protect and help bring justice to OFWs who are victims of maltreatment, like Demafelis.
According to Ople, Demafelis was hired by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Global E-Human Resources Inc. and was deployed with a one-year contract in 2014. In 2016, however, the agency was shut down due to violations of recruitment laws.
Ople said that family members and government officials lost contact of Demafelis after the agency closed.
Ople said that Demafelis’ case “should be addressed” to know further details such as her employment history and how she ended up with her Lebanese employer.
“Most Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, have the ‘kafala’ system where the employer is the sponsor of their visa.
“How stringent are we in screening foreign employers?” Ople asked.
“In the same way that the execution of Flor Contemplacion in 1995 led to the enactment of the migrant workers law, then let Joanna’s death open the doors to meaningful reforms in how we deploy and protect our workers,” she added.
Contemplacion was executed by hanging for murder in Singapore in 1995.
On February 14, the Senate said that they would open a probe into the death of Demafelis and the government handling her case.
Senators Nancy Binay and Manny Pacquiao also filed their resolutions to help OFWs who experience abuse and maltreatment.