Filipino domestic workers gather in Central on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Asia Times
Filipino domestic workers gather in Central on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Asia Times

A campaign to force Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to resign has been gathering pace after he allegedly made derogatory comments about a maid who was murdered and stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait.

Bello is alleged to have used the words “ice-cream” to describe Joanna Demafelis, the murdered maid who was found in a freezer. He is also alleged to have said her family became millionaires from the donations that poured in after her gruesome death in Kuwait.

An online petition calling for Bello to resign has been launched by a number of Filipino groups based in Hong Kong and Macau, reported.

Bello is alleged to have made the remarks during a meet-and-greet session between domestic workers and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go on April 12 when President Rodrigo Duterte visited Hong Kong.

Bello told domestic workers at the meeting that “they should prepare well for their future, and not wait until they turned into ‘ice cream’ like Joanna Demafelis before they became self-sufficient,” according to the statement on

He also claimed Demafelis’ relatives became instant millionaires because of the donations that poured in from people who were moved by the tragedy. According to, Bello’s comments were heard by several community leaders during the meeting.

The organizers of the campaign also criticized Bello’s decision to recall Filipino labor attaché Jalilo dela Torre, who is perceived to support employers over the rights of workers and there are allegations he colluded with recruiters.

The campaign has been organized by BAYAN Hong Kong & Macau, Filipino Migrant Wokers’ Union, Global Alliance Hong Kong, Global Ministers Association, Mindanao (Hong Kong) Workers Federation and United Filipinos in Hong Kong.

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