(UPDATED) - The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group presented Thursday, March 1, the alleged recruiter of slain migrant worker Joanna Daniela Demafelis.

Agnes Tuballes turned herself in to authorities in Baguio City on Tuesday, a day after Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa said they have already located Demafelis' alleged recruiter.

Police said, however that she is free to go because she is not considered a suspect.

Tuballes pointed to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources Inc. as the agency that facilitated Demafelis’ employment in Kuwait. She said she surfaced in order to clear her name.

“Hindi naman ako ang suspect pero ang lumalabas ngayon ako ang prime suspect hindi ako ang pumatay kay Joanna para ilabas ninyo ang picture ko ng walang pahintulot. Sinira ninyo ang pangalan ko, ‘yung mga anak ko,” an emotional Tuballes said.

(I am not the suspect, but I am being portrayed as the prime suspect in the killing of Joanna. You release my photo without my permission. You destroyed my name and that of my children.)

“Isa rin po akong OFW since 2007 until 2017, katulong din ako at hindi ko ginusto na mamatay si Joanna doon, never ko pinangarap na makadisgrasya ng tao kaya lumabas ako dahil hindi ko makuha yung pinalabas ninyo sa akin na ganyan. Hindi ako pumatay sakanaya, tumulong lang ako para makalabas siya ng bansa at makapagtrabaho ng legal,” she added.

(I was also an OFW, from 2007 to 2017. I also worked as a househelp. I did not intend for Joanna to die. I have never wanted to harm other people. I did not kill her. I just helped her land a legitimate job overseas.)

How Demafelis landed a job in Kuwait

Tuballes said Demafelis, a distant relative, sent her a message through social media in 2013, asking her whether she knew of any overseas job that she might apply for. Tuballes said she was working in Hong Kong at the time.

She said she recommended the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to Demafelis.

“Sabi ko doon ka mag-apply dahil doon free passport, no placement fee, no salary deduction. ’Yun ang usapan namin kaya nagpunta siya doon kaya nakapag-abroad siya ng free at legal,” she said.

(I told her to file an application there because she would not have to spend for her passport and placement fee. There will also be no salary deduction. That was how she was able to legally land a job overseas.)

Tuballes said she herself worked in Kuwait for six years starting 2007. A certain Ara Midtimbang offered her a job when she returned home to the Philippines in 2013.

She said Midtimbang asked her to find a legitimate recruitment agency, through which they could deploy Filipina workers in Kuwait.

Tuballes said she worked as a referrer of the said recruitment agency, which was then accredited with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). She did not, however, receive a monthly salary because she was not officially an employee.

She was paid P5,000 for every person that she referred to the agency. In the case of Joanna, received P13,000.

"Si Agnes nagtrabaho s’ya sabi nya as staff ng Mt. Carmel but hindi naman totoong staff kasi hindi naman s’ya pinapasweldo ng Mt. Carmel. May ka tie-up si Agnes sa Kuwait. Filipina na asawa ng Kuwaiti at naghanap sila na agency dito sa Pilipinas na magko-kover lang sa kanila. So parang iba sila pero sila magpapadala,” CIDG director Roel Obusan explained.

“May office din sila (Agnes) kung ang Mt. Carmel nasa 4th floor, sila nasa 3rd floor na ang pangalan din Mt. Carmel so iisipin ng mga tao iisa sila. May deception on that part,” he added.

(Agnes linked up with the Filipino wife of a Kuwaiti national in Kuwait, who was looking for a recruitment agency in the Philippines that could provide their requirements. Through Mt. Carmel, the group of Agnes was able to send workers to Kuwait. They also had an office. The Mt. Carmel recruitment agency was on the 4th floor while they were on the 3rd floor. They also used the name Mt. Carmel. So people thought they were one and the same. There was deception on their part.)

Tuballes said she endorsed the processing of Demafelis' papers to Mariz Asanji, a legitimate employee of Mr. Carmel.

“Hanggang sa pag alis ko ng Hongkong hindi pa naayos ang job order kaya si Ara hindi pa makapagprocess. Hindi ka makaprocess kung hindi pa ayos ang job order so nung nasa Hong Kong na ako pinasa ko kay Mariz na secretary ng Mt. Carmel,” she said.

Demafelis left for Kuwait in 2014. She went missing in November 2017. Her body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in that Arab country in February 2018. The body bore torture wounds as well as broken ribs and broken hipbone.

Her gruesome death had prompted the President to finally declare a ban on new deployments of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait.

Her employers and primary suspects in her killing, Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf and his wife, Syrian national Mona Hassoun, were separately arrested last week and are being questioned by authorities.

Had she known earlier that Demafelis had gone missing in November 2017, Tuballes said she could have helped locate Demafelis.

She said Demafelis' mother lamented to her in 2014, about three months after Demafelis left for Kuwait, that she has had no contact with her daughter although she continued to receive remittances.

Tuballes said she informed the agency about the matter, but she never heard back from the agency until its license to operate was revoked in 2016.

She said she somehow felt guilty when she found out what happened to Demafelis.

“Shocked ako nung lumabas ang balita na ganyan so ang sabi ko almost one year na ako sa bahay bakit walang pupunta na isa sa pamilya sa akin kung ganun na pala katagal ang pangyayari na hindi nila ma-kontact,” she said.

(I was shocked to learn about her death. I have been home for almost one year, but her family did not contact me.)

Tuballes said she had long wanted to face the Demafelis family but she thought she should give them more time to mourn. Besides, she said she did not want to face the media.

“Nakikiramay ako sa pamilya ni Joanna saka hindi ko rin po ginusto ‘yung nangyari,” she said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the government was elated that Tuballes turned herself in.

He said Tuballes has “many questions” to answer.

"It's good that she surrender(ed) because she will really be arrested if she does not surrender," Roque said in a press conference with Palace reporters.

"We're happy that she surrendered and spared the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) from conducting a manhunt for her. There will be many questions that she has to answer," he added.

Roque said the government wants to know "what exactly (Tuballes’s) side is."

"The President asked the NBI to summon the recruiter and it was because probably, we just wanted to find out what exactly her side is," he said.

"On Demafelis's case, it's surprising that she seemed to have been assigned to a different employer. So we have to find out the truth and seek answers on such issue," the presidential spokesman added. (With Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)