Philippine President asked to ensure justice for slain Filipina in Saudi Arabia

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Oct 15 2010

Read this article from Philippine Daily Inquirer, a follow article in quest for justice for slain Filipina domestic worker in Saudi

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10/13/2010
MANILA, Philippines—Middle East-based Filipino migrant workers’ groups have asked President Benigno Aquino to intervene in the case of Filipina maid Romilyn Ybañez, who was found murdered inside her Arab employers’ home last September 8.

The Riyadh-based Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) expressed fear that somebody from the Arab household killed Ybañez and has influenced the Saudi police to delay the resolution of the case.

Ybañez's family in North Cotabato "needs President Noynoy's help. They're demanding justice," said the leaders of the M-ME and its affiliate organizations, like the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), which is based in Al-Khobar in Saudi's Eastern Province.

They lamented that more than a month after Ybañez's murder, Saudi authorities have not arrested and file criminal charges against Ybañez's suspected killers—her Arab employers.

"Up to now, the police in Al-Khobar (where Ybañez used to work) have not issued a report on the murder despite strong representations made by the Philippine embassy here with the authorities here," John Leonard Monterona, M-ME regional coordinator told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday.

In an e-mail, Monterona said, "apparently, it's time for the President to intercede in behalf of Romilyn Ybañez."

Early this month, Philippine Ambassador Antonio Villamor met with Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Fahad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to facilitate the investigation of the case.

In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, Villamor said the Saudi emir had assured Philippine authorities of the "immediate release" of Ybañez's autopsy report.

The emir also said he would "personally see to it that justice will be served."

The envoy said they were selecting a top-caliber trial lawyer to handle the case, using the DFA's legal assistance fund.

Sometime in mid-September, Labor Attaché David Des Dicang, head of the Philippine Labor Office-Eastern Region Operations, said the police report would be ready shortly.

Dicang told the English daily Arab News they had been "following up daily with the police the status of the investigation of the case."

Citing an embassy report, the DFA said Ybañez died of stab wounds in the neck, abdomen and wrist, as well as acid burns in the mouth area, on the arms and legs.

A near-empty container of sulfuric acid was taken from the scene by Saudi authorities, the DFA also said.

The victim's ordeal began on May 31 upon her arrival in Riyadh. Her recruiter, PRA Solidworks Manpower Resources and Promotion, had deployed her to Al-Khobar supposedly as a nursing aide.

But the 22-year-old OFW ended up as a maid, according to the DFA.

M-ME and KGS leaders said they were worried about the outcome of the case, noting "suicide is the usual alibi of abusive Arab employers when their OFW staff end up dead."

Meanwhile, Migrante-Middle East and KGS have assailed the Philippine embassy in the Saudi capital for allegedly not helping two Filipina beauticians who ran away from their abusive Arab employer.

"The runaways, Vicenta Muana and Zosima Monfrey, left their workplace (in Riyadh) because they have not been paid their salaries for more than a year," said Monterona.

In a signed complaint, Muana and Monfrey had disclosed that after escaping from their employer, they proceeded to the embassy-attached shelter for abused OFWs.

"But shelter personnel refused them entry for the simple reason that they did not have endorsement letters supposedly issued by Labor Attaché Albert Valenciano and Welfare Officer Nestor Burayag," Monterona added.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East