When cops discovered the badly beaten up body of Filipina domestic helper Joanna Demafelis inside the freezer at the apartment where she used to work in, her former employers were immediately tagged as suspects.
Filipinos all around the world called for the immediate arrest of Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf and his Syrian wife Mona Hassoun who are both believed to have taken to hiding in either Lebanon or Syria.
On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte visited the wake of Demafelis in Iloilo, condoling with the bereaved family as well as extending financial assistance. It turned out that Assaf was arrested on that same day, confirmed Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday evening.
Assistant Undersecretary for General Security Affairs, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al-Tarah, informed Ambassador Renato Villa of the good news during a meeting at the Ministry of Interior on Thursday.
INTERPOL Lebanon has arrested Assaf; although his wife remains at large. It is believed she is hiding in Syria.
INTERPOL Kuwait as well as the Philippines welcomed this new development; although everyone is still hoping Hassoun will also be arrested soon, especially because her mother-in-law had claimed that it was not her son but her daughter-in-law who had been abusing Demafelis. Of course, it is possible that she is only saying that to protect her son.
Cayetano expressed hope that Kuwaiti authorities will request for Assaf’s extradition so he will be brought to court in Kuwait.
Duterte has been informed of the development and was pleased with the news.
“The President welcomes the news that Nader Essam Assaf is now in the hands of authorities in Lebanon,” the DFA Secretary said.
“Assaf’s arrest is a critical first step in our quest for justice for Joanna and we are thankful to our friends in Kuwait and Lebanon for their assistance.”