April 24, 2011
Migrant rights group urges PH govt. to investigate, seeks justice
An officer of a Filipino migrants’ rights group in the Middle East, said he had received information from fellow overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Lebanon about a reported death of a Filipina domestic helper.
John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator of Migrante-Middle East, said he was referred to the URL of the news report (http://ethiopiansuicides.blogspot.com/2011/04/filipino-suicide-by-hanging-in-hasbaya.html?utm_source=BP_recent) by an OFW-friend and other concerned OFWs in Lebanon; he immediately browsed and there found the news report.
The report was posted on April 19, 2011, quoting the National News Agency, which reported the death by hanging of a Filipino domestic worker named Marites Penno on the balcony of her employer’s house in Hasbaya, South of Lebanon.
According to the report, Lebanese authorities and a doctor have already conducted an investigation and examination of her remains and at the house of her employer. Lebanese authorities concluded that the OFW domestic helper had committed ‘suicide by hanging’.
But Monterona doubts if OFW Marites Nabor Pinto, Migrante later got the confirmation of the report and her real name, indeed had committed suicide. He noted some Lebanese employers are ‘notorious’ on their hired domestic helpers resulting to rampant abuses and maltreatment. “This prompted the PH govt. to impose a ban on deploying OFW-domestic workers in Lebanon,” he continued.
“Suicide -by hanging, by jumping on a building, or by acid ingestion -is often cited as reason by the host govt. authorities when a helpless OFW-domestic worker mysteriously died at the very house of their employers,” Monterona added.
Monterona said OFW Penno is the 3rd mysterious death of OFWs his group monitored this year within the Middle East.
Monterona said on April 20, Wednesday, he had sent an electronic mail to Ambassador Gilbert Asuque of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut, requesting to investigate the incident.
Other mysterious deaths
On February 2, a Lebanese newspaper, As-Sarif, reported an OFW domestic helper identified as Lorena Bedjoan, 24, ‘throws herself’ from the 4th floor balcony of a building in Fanar, north of Beirut, Lebanon.
“As-Sarif report said ‘she died immediately and the police is investigating’. No additional information was given on the said local newspaper report,” Monterona added.
Last week, Migrante-Middle East assailed and expressed serious concern on the findings of the Saudi authorities that OFW Romilyn Eroy-Ibanez, 22, from North Cotabato, had committed ‘suicide’. “This is exactly the opposite of an earlier finding by the hospital’s attending physicians that it is highly impossible for her to stab herself, as there were stab wounds seen at the back of her body, and at the same time intoxicating herself of acid,” Monterona averred.
Monterona said the Aquino government, through the DFA and the concerned PH post must work and move for reinvestigation of these mysterious deaths of Eroy-Ibanez in Saudi, Lorena Bedjoan and Marites Penno, both in Lebanon.
‘It is very disheartening that every time there is OFWs found dead inside the house of their employer, foul play, as always, is easily ruled out and quickly cite suicide as the motive of death. The PH govt. is helpless in conducting an honest-to-goodness investigation with the host govt. authorities and reveal the real cause of death and send the suspects in jail,” Monterona averred.
“Our OFW-domestic helpers are dying at the hands of abusive employers and yet the PH govt. is not providing protection for them,” Monteron added.
Monterona cited the following cases of mysterious deaths:
- OFW Rowena Peremne Arceo, 33, from Cordillera province, mysterious death, died October 22, 2008 in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia; unsolved case.
- OFW Joy Cabansi Sarto, 28, from Echague, Isabela province, murdered by her Arab employer on Sept.22, 2009; unsolved case.
- OFW Eugenia Baja, 24, passport holder SS0428627, initial reports said she committed suicide, but based on the autopsy later issued revealed that Baja bore stab wounds and bruises; unsolved case.
- OFW Analyn De Pena, 33, from Old Sta. Mesa, Manila allegedly committed suicide sometime in November 2009, but the family believed there is foul play on her death; unsolved case.
- OFW Marilou Macam Ating, 37, from Lingayen, Pangasinan, sketchy reports reaching the family that subject died after she fell from the fourth floor of her employer’s residence. Family believed there is foul play leading to her death on November 24, 2008; unsolved case.
- Based on Migrante chapter in the United Arab Emirates reports sent to John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator sometime on April 2009, its records showed that from February to August 2009, the Migrante chapter in Dubai has already recorded seven cases of mysterious death. These include cases of OFW Roderick Miranda who reportedly hanged himself on February 4; OFW Norayda Ayuman who reportedly jumped from the 7th floor of a building on February 6; OFW Jeffrey Alberto So who reportedly jumped from the 3rd floor of a building on June 13; and OFW Evelyn Lilo who allegedly jumped from a building on August 10.
“All these cases are unsolved cases,” Monterona concluded. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator