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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, April 3, 2018
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Ninfa Leonardia

Justice at last for Joanna Demafelis. The Kuwaiti Court has tried and found guilty of her murder the couple who had killed her and left her body in a freezer before fleeing to the husband’s homeland in Lebanon. The couple was tried in absentia, but that did not deter the judge from sentencing them both to death – by hanging. But so far, it is only the husband, who has been accounted for, the wife who is Syrian, is reported to be still at-large. But the long arm of the law will surely get her. It seems a great pity that they could be so heartless. A photo of them published showed a good-looking couple whom you would think could not hurt a fly.

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The Kuwaiti judge’s sentence was harsh: death by hanging. But that will depend on how the Lebanese government will react to the decision. Will they hand over the guilty couple, or will their laws allow them to avoid the execution through legal means? These cases will surely bring to the minds of all employers of Filipino workers in the Middle East that our country will act on abuses suffered by our workers in their countries. It is a shame, because such maltreatment is endured only by illiterate, or barely literate women who do not know how to stand up for their rights.

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But there would be other forms of harassment or abuses. I knew someone who worked in a Middle East country a long time ago and she told of so many stories of harassment by nurses working in hospitals there. She said our nurses are given very good pay and accommodations because they are, not only well-trained and intelligent, but also always neat and clean. She said some of the nurses confided to her that their troubles are usually with the male patients, including the elderly ones, who always leered at them.

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They also said that while they are with the male patients together with the doctors, the old patients looked very weak and sickly, and hardly able to move. But once the male doctors are gone, the old goats would spring up from their hospital beds and chase them around the room. Fortunately, the nurse said, before they took their jobs, their group studied self-defense tactics, so they are able to tumble the lechers back to their beds. In fact one of the nurses said she got frightened because the would-be molester got terrible palpitations later and she had to call a doctor. Probably ashamed, the dirty old man never told anyone what caused his “relapse”.

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Our next concern as far as our overseas workers are concerned is our fellow Negrense, a resident of Bago City, who finally came home emaciated and sickly after being locked up in a stockroom by her female employer who fed her only noodles and spoiled rice when she pleaded for it. Who is taking care of her case against her employer? In this case, it is the wife who should be prosecuted, because as the domestic helper narrated, the husband was more humane and even helped her get away. I hope she gets justice, too. And we are glad that she came home alive.

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Was that an example of fake news? Or a fake excuse? We hear some time ago that former senator Jinggoy Estrada had sought permission from the Sandiganbayan to travel to the U.S. where he had been invited by the group called U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance to speak before them. Now we know that Jinggoy, a movie actor and son of former President, movie star, and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, was one of the senators detained for their alleged part in the scam involving their notorious pork barrel. Before he could leave, however, the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance officers denied that they had invited him! The latest, however, is that he is still determined to travel, and what does the SandiganBayan have to say about that?

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A bit of inspiring news after Holy Week was the victory of the Pinoy Football team, the Askals, over their counterpart from Tajikistan that will qualify them, at last, for the AFC Asian Cup for the very FIRST time. It was an exultant team that was pictured hugging and shedding tears of joy, abetted by the very supportive crowd that cheered them on. Among the stars were the Younghusband brothers, Phil and James, whom we are proud to acknowledge for having real Pinoy blood, their mother being a true Pinay, whom we met and befriended during the early days of her sons in the Philippines when they played at our Paglaum stadium in Bacolod.

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Their mother, who died a few days later, had some Ilonggo roots, too, because she spoke fluent Ilonggo with us. She was a simple and very down-to-earth woman and told us she was looking forward to coming back to Bacolod. Sadly, the news of her death came when both her sons were playing outside Manila, but I can’t remember if they were in Bacolod then or elsewhere. Let’s cheer the Askals on and pray for them as they carry our country’s name at the Asian Games.*

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