OFW ‘throws’ herself from 4th floor of a building

CITING a Lebanese newspaper report, the Middle-East based Filipino migrant rights group, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME), Wednesday calls on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Embassy in Beirut to conduct an investigation on the reported death of an OFW-domestic helper.

As-Sarif, a Lebanese newspaper, on February 2 reported that an OFW identified as Lorena Bedjoan, 24 years old, on February 1, ‘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,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, citing the newspaper report.

Monterona reveals that he came to know the news report from a concerned fellow OFW from Lebanon who called him last week confirming such incident. The same OFW informed him the linked of the said news report in Arabic translated in English (http://ethiopiansuicides.blogspot.com/2011/02/filipino-suicide-north-of-beirut.html).

1st case of mysterious death this year

“Her case could be the 1st case of ‘mysterious’ death this year that reached us, adding 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,’ that received a broad supports from OFWs and OFWs organizations around the world.

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

“Our Migrante chapters in the Middle East had 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 added.

Monterona cited for instance 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 were unsolved.

No protection amid robust OFWs remittances

These cases were just among the numerous cases showing the extent of government reluctance and neglect on the deplorable plight of OFWs, amid the steady increase of OFWs remittances providing strong dollar reserves for the country and pumping up the local economy through local consumptions from OFWs families and dependents noting that 8 out of ten Filipino families have a member or relative working abroad.

On Tuesday, BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. announced that cumulative remittances from OFWs coursed through banks ‘were more robust than expected in 2010, rising year-on-year by 8.2 percent to US$18.8 billion.’

“We are, again and again, demanding from the government to provide OFWs protection and free on-site services and honest-to-goodness service from our embassy and labor officials abroad, -this must be on its 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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