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Kuwait invites Duterte to visit amid tensions

Kuwait invites Duterte to visit amid tensions

The Demafelis family is demanding justice for Joanna, who left home to help fend for her family.

The family of Joanna Demafelis openly wept as the white casket was unloaded at an airport cargo terminal in the central city of Iloilo. Demafelis's brother Joejet and sister Jessica burst into tears upon seeing the remains of their sister.

Joanna's corpse was found stored in a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait, reportedly kept there for a year until its discovery.

A Philippine presidential aide who had supported a South Korean supplier in a frigate deal is planning to testify as President Rodrigo Duterte may be falling under criticism for the deal, and making remarks that deride safe sex practices.

Jarallah told reporters at the National Assembly on Monday after a meeting of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee that he had agreed with Philippine authorities to conclude an agreement regulating the conditions of Filipino employment in Kuwait. The earnings they send home have bolstered the Philippine economy for decades.

Aside from the family of the deceased, ranking government officials were on hand at the airport, headed by Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano. "Her death is very tragic, but this will also be a rallying point for all agencies to be more aggressive overseas".

The Filipino community in Kuwait is estimated at 250,000, with 65 percent (165,000 workers) of which are employed in household labor.

Cayetano said Kuwait had expressed outrage over Demafelis' death and promised do everything it could to render justice.

Philippine officials say they are re-examining how to better detect and stop abuse of its workers overseas.

"We are on the way to calm if we have not already reached it", he said, referencing the "media whirlwind" Duterte's statements had created.

Still the sheer number of Filipino workers overseas makes monitoring their wellbeing an overwhelming task.

The Philippines has banned the deployment of its workers some countries, but many desperate Filipinos chose to stay, even in war-torn Iraq and Syria. "They will do everything to bring the accused to justice and her death will also be a rallying point for all government agencies to be more aggressive overseas", said Cayetano in a mix of English and Filipino.

President Duterte said he was considering preventing workers from going to Kuwait because Manila had recently lost four women there, referring to domestic workers allegedly have been the victims of abused and who had committed suicide. It called Duterte and past presidents "false messiahs".

"I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait".

Duterte said 82 Filipino workers died in Kuwait in 2016 and that number rose to 103 previous year, though he didn't specify the cause of death.

"What are you doing to my countrymen? And if I were to do it to your citizens here, would you be happy?" asked the volatile Philippine leader.

The Asian neighbours temporarily withdrew their respective ambassadors.

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