Body of Filipina found in freezer in Kuwait

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Authorities said the body was found in an apartment in the Al Shaab area, in Kuwait City.

Story updated to include statement of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 9) — A body of a dead Filipino was found stored in a freezer in Kuwait, according to multiple sources.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III identified the body as that of Joanna Daniela Demafelis, born June 24, 1988.

In a report by Arab Times, authorities said the body was found in an apartment in the Al Shaab area, where it may have been kept for over a year.

Initial investigation showed Demafelis' Lebanese employer, Nader Essam Assaf, is wanted for cases related to falsified cheques.

ACTS-OFW Party-list Representative John Bertiz said Demafelis' body is now with authorities.

"Yes it's confirmed the body is with the police forensic and autopsy, we are condemning this act to its highest degree!"

Meanwhile, in a text message to CNN Philippines, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said the Philippine embassy in Kuwait is still verifying the report.

Authorities found traces indicating Demafelis may have died by strangulation or torture.

The death comes after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) suspended in January the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait in the wake of reports of abuse and deaths.

Bertiz called for a total OFW deployment ban on Kuwait.

DOLE is still probing the deaths of seven OFWs in the West Asian country.

The country is a top destination of migrant workers from the Philippines. The latest data from Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said there are some 240,000 Filipinos in Kuwait as of 2016.

In a media briefing Thursday morning, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte, who just last month had appealed to Kuwaiti's to treat Filipinos "with dignity," has plans to visit Kuwait.

READ: Duterte to Kuwait: Treat Filipino workers with dignity