Thousands pay last respects to Demafelis
SARA, Iloilo (Philippines News Agency) — An estimated 3,000 sympathizers trooped to this town to join the Demafelis family to lay 29-year-old Joanna Daniela to her final resting place on Saturday.
Joanna, in a pink long dress lying inside a white coffin, left their unfinished house past 12 p.m. in Sitio Cordero, Barangay Ferraris.
The slain migrant worker 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 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, the oldest of the nine siblings, in a speech delivered after the mass on behalf of the Demafelis family 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.
Meantime, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello arrived at the house of the Demafelis Saturday morning and had a long talk with the family and extended additional assistance although it was not disclosed upon the request of the family for security reasons.
He was joined by Administrator Hans Cacdac of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa).
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.
Joanna was found dead inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Al Shaab district of Kuwait on February 9, a year after she had gone missing. She was repatriated to the Philippines and to her hometown last February 17.
Her death has 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.
Joanna’s Lebanese employer Nadel Essaf Assaf was arrested on the same day Duterte visited Joanna’s wake. Assaf’s Syrian wife Mona Hassoun was also arrested a few days after.
The couple are the primary suspects in Joanna’s death.
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. (PNA)
Photo by Cindy Ferrer