Thousands attend Joanna Demafelis funeral in Sara, Iloilo

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Demafeliz, the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Al Shaab district of Kuwait on February 9.

Her Lebanese employer Nadel Essaf Assaf was arrested  on February 22  while  Assaf’s Syrian wife Mona Hassoun  arrested on February 25.

During his arrest, Assaf admitted before the Kuwaiti police that  he was the one who placed Demafelis  body  inside the freezer.

He said the Filipino maid fainted  while his wife was beating her.

Yesterday, Demafelis was buried.

The hearse, left their unfinished house past 12 p.m. in Sitio Cordero, Barangay Ferraris.

Demafelis  left for Kuwait in 2014 to rebuild their house destroyed by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

A long line of at least 40 vehicles and more than 100 motorcycles joined the funeral convoy from the Barangay Ferraris to the Saint John the Baptist Church where the final mass was held for Joanna before she was laid to rest at the Virgin Island Cemetery, also in Sara.

Some sympathizers wearing white shirts with “Justice for Joanna” print also joined the last mass for the slain overseas Filipino worker.

The one-hour  mass service was celebrated by Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo who was joined by the Sara parish priest Reverend Father Ildefonso Tagamolila and Father Ricky Gubac.

Jojet Demafelis, the oldest of the nine siblings, in a speech  expressed his gratitude to everyone who helped brought back the body of her sister from Kuwait to their home.

In Virgin Island Cemetery, Joanna was laid to rest in an orange brown tiled tomb prepared for her by the local government of Sara and the town’s former mayor Neptali Salcedo.

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello and Overseas Workers  Welfare Administrator Hans Cacdac  arrived at the house of the  Demafelis hours before burial.

Bello and Cacdac has an hour meeting with the family. They extended assistance to the He has a close door meeting with the family.

The DOLE extended additional assistance but the amount was only known to the family.

In an interview, Bello said that Administrator Cacdac will join the parents or any member of the Demafelis family should their presence is needed in the course of the trial of Joanna’s case.

The two officials joined the Demafelis family during the mass but it was only Cacdac who stayed and accompanied the grieving family to the cemetery.

Demafelis’ death  prompted President Rodrigo R. Duterte to order repatriation of thousands of migrant workers in Kuwait and ban the deployment in the Gulf state.

Duterte visited the wake of Joanna in February 22 where he personally turned over the PHP500,000 financial assistance from the Owwa to the victim’s family.

The alleged recruiter of Joanna has formally surrendered to the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Thursday. – with report from Cindy Ferrer/PNA

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