Thursday, February 17, 2011

Group urges gov’t to probe ‘mysterious’ death of OFW in Lebanon First Posted 18:18:00 02/16/2011 Filed Under: Overseas Employment, Migration, death notices

MANILA, Philippines—A Filipino migrant rights group on Wednesday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Embassy in Beirut to conduct an investigation on the reported death of a Filipino domestic helper who was reported by a Lebanese newspaper to have leapt from the fourth-floor balcony of a building in Fanar, Lebanon.

The Middle-East based Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) said the Lebanese newspaper As-Sarif reported on February 2 that Lorena Bedjoan, 24, “threw” herself from the balcony and that “she died immediately and the police is investigating.”

“No additional information was given in the newspaper report,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said.

Monterona said he learned about the news report from a concerned fellow overseas Filipino worker from Lebanon who called him last week confirming the incident. The same OFW gave him the link of the news report, which is in Arabic and translated in English:

“Her case could be the first case of ‘mysterious’ death this year that reached us. It adds to the long list of unsolved cases,” Monterona averred.

Last month, Migrante-Middle East launched a signature campaign dubbed as “Justice for murdered OFW Romilyn Eroy-Ibanez! Justice for all OFW victims,” which received
broad support from OFWs around the world.

OFW Romilyn Eroy-Ibanez, 22, from Kidapawan, Catobato, was reportedly murdered at the house of her employer on September 2 in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

“Our Migrante chapters in the Middle East have recorded 15 cases of ‘mysterious’ deaths involving OFWs, mostly women, since 2008. Their respective families are not discounting the possibility of foul play leading to their deaths. As far as we are concerned, these are not yet closed or solved,” Monterona said.

Monterona cited the following cases of mysterious deaths of OFWs:

-- Rowena Peremne Arceo, 33, of Cordillera province, who died October 22, 2008, in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia; unsolved case.

-- Joy Cabansi Sarto, 28, of Echague, Isabela province, allegedly murdered by her Arab employer on Sept. 22, 2009; unsolved case.

-- Eugenia Baja, 24, holder of passport number SS0428627; initial reports said she committed suicide, but an autopsy report revealed that Baja bore stab wounds and bruises; unsolved case.

-- Analyn de Pena, 33, of Old Sta. Mesa, Manila, who allegedly committed suicide sometime in November 2009, but her family believes there was foul play; unsolved case.

-- Marilou Macam Ating, 37, of Lingayen, Pangasinan; sketchy reports reaching her family stated that she died after she fell from the fourth floor of her employer’s residence. Family believes there was foul play leading to her death on November 24, 2008; unsolved case.

-- From February to August 2009, the Migrante chapter in Dubai has already recorded seven cases of mysterious deaths of OFWs. These include Roderick Miranda, who reportedly hanged himself on February 4; Norayda Ayuman, who reportedly jumped from the seventh floor of a building on February 6; Jeffrey Alberto So, who reportedly jumped from the third floor of a building on June 13; and Evelyn Lilo, who allegedly jumped from a building on August 10. All these cases remain unsolved.

“We are, again and again, demanding from the government protection to for OFWs and free on-site services from our embassy and labor officials abroad. These must be priority tasks since the government is benefitting from OFWs’ remittances, but we have not seen any serious concern from the Aquino government,” Monterona said.

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