Philippines hails death sentence vs Demafelis killers

Paterno Esmaquel II
Philippines hails death sentence vs Demafelis killers
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano calls this 'a very important development in our quest for justice' for Joanna Demafelis, who was found dead in Kuwait

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Monday, April 2, hailed the death sentence meted out against the killers of 29-year-old Joanna Demafelis, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) found dead in a freezer in Kuwait.  

“We take note of the swift action taken by Kuwaiti authorities in connection with the murder of our kababayan (fellow Filipino) Joanna Demafelis,” Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.

“This is a very important development in our quest for justice for Joanna,” Cayetano added.

“We continue to look forward to the cooperation of our friends not only in Kuwait but also in Lebanon and Syria in our efforts to bring this case to a close,” he also said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippine embassy in Kuwait “has been informed” about the court decision, but is “waiting for a formal notification from Kuwaiti authorities.”

The DFA said Kuwaiti authorities informed Foreign Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola about this on Sunday, April 1, “but did not provide additional details.” The Philippine embassy in Kuwait, however, “was able to obtain a copy of the court order.”

Citing a judicial source, Agence France-Presse reported on Sunday that Demafelis’ employers – a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife – had been sentenced, in absentia, to death by hanging. (READ: Joanna Demafelis’ family wishes death for her killers)

The Demafelis murder triggered a diplomatic crisis between the Philippines and Kuwait, prompting Manila to impose a departure ban for its citizens planning to work in the Gulf state. – with reports from Agence France-Presse /

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at