Demafelis' alleged recruiter may still face charges – POEA
MANILA, Philippines – The alleged recruiter of slain overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joanna Demafelis may still face illegal recruitment charges for receiving commission from her hiring.
In a text message, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard Olalia said Agnes Tuballes may still be charged with illegal recruitment, even if she was only a household service worker (HSW) who referred Demafelis to the recruitment agency who sent her to Kuwait.
"Agnes Tuballes acted as an agent of [Our Lady of Mt Carmel Global E-Human Resources Incorporated] when she referred Joanna to the latter. An act of referral constitutes illegal recruitment when done by any person even if she is an HSW," Olalia told Rappler.
"[M]uch more if she received a commission of P5,000, indicating that she deliberately recruited the victim in exchange for money," he added.
Tuballes presented herself to the police late February and claimed innocence, saying that she only referred Demafelis to the agency. (READ: 'A national shame': The death and homecoming of Joanna Demafelis)
But under the Omnibus Rules and Regulations for the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, a mere referral for employment abroad by a non-licensee or non-holder or authority can constitute illegal recruitment.
Tuballes, who said she was working with a certain Kuwait-based Ara Midtimbang, looked for OFW recruits. She was promised P5,000 per referral but was given P13,000 for recruiting Demafelis.
Olalia also pointed out that the recruitment agency is "guilty of conspiracy" to engage in illegal recruitment.
"By expressly giving commission to Agnes, Mt Carmel's officers are guilty of conspiracy to engage in illegal recruitment because they voluntarily engaged an agent, who is not licensed to recruit," he said.
"Hence, Agnes and the officers may face criminal charges of illegal recruitment."
Through Our Lady of Mt Carmel Global E-Human Resources Incorporated, Demafelis left for Kuwait in 2014. Her contract was set to expire mid-2016. Meanwhile, Mt Carmel's registration was revoked in June 2016.
As early as January 2017, Demafelis was reported missing, according to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
A year later, Demafelis' corpse was found in a freezer in Kuwait. Authorities said her body was reportedly stored there for a year.
Her death is among the incidents that made President Rodrigo Duterte lash out at Kuwait, citing instances of OFWs being abused or maltreated. On February 12, Bello declared a total deployment ban to the Gulf country.
Demafelis' remains were brought back to the Philippines on February 16. Last Saturday, March 3, she was buried in her hometown in Iloilo. – Rappler.com