More ‘mysterious deaths’ of OFWs in Middle East

ROMILYN Eroy-Ibañez, 22 and a native of Cotabato, came to Saudi Arabia as a nursing aide but found herself working as a domestic helper. Four months after, her body was found in her employers’ kitchen soaked in blood. She reportedly died of stab wounds in her neck, abdomen and wrist as well as acid burns in her mouth area, arms and legs. Her death was declared a suicide. When her remains were repatriated, her eye and tongue were missing.

Janice Joy Pampangan, 25, also from Cotabato, worked as domestic helper in Jordan in 2005. Her employer reported she died of a brain stroke and that she was previously diagnosed to have been infected with the HIV virus. However, when her remains were repatriated, her left eye was also missing. There were also handcuff marks in her wrists and legs, raising suspicions she was tied, abused and left to die.

Romilyn and Janice are just a few OFWs whose deaths have remained a mystery. There were other mysterious deaths involving OFWs in the Middle East and their cases are still unresolved as of today. Other OFWs who died of mysterious circumstances include:

·Rowena Peremne Arceo, 33, from Cordillera province, who died on October 22, 2008 in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

·Joy Cabansi Sarto, 28, from Echague, Isabela province, murdered by her Arab employer on September 22, 2009;

· Lorena (not her real name), 33, from Ilagan, Isabela, rape victim allegedly took place in Dammam, Saudi Arabia on October 1, 2009;

·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;

·Clara (not her real name), on her mid-20, from Lagawe, Ifugao, gang raped by Arabs at her employer’s house sometime in February 2007;

·Analyn dela Peña, 33, from Old Sta. Mesa, Manila allegedly committed suicide sometime in November 2009, but the family believed there is foul play on her death;

·Marilou Macam Ating, 37, from Lingayen, Pangasinan, sketchy reports reaching the family that Marilou 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;

From February to August 2009, Migrante in Dubai has also recorded seven (7) cases of mysterious deaths. These include cases of Roderick Miranda who reportedly hanged himself on February 4; Norayda Ayuman who reportedly jumped from the 7th floor of a building on February 6; Jeffrey Alberto So who reportedly jumped from the 3rd floor of a building on June 13; and Evelyn Lilo who allegedly jumped from a building on August 10; all these cases were unsolved.

The Senate has always taken up the cudgels for distressed OFWs. We just hope that the investigation would really help find out the truth and seek justice for these hapless OFWs. Otherwise, Ibañez’ death and the rest in the growing list become another anecdotal and statistical evidence for the Philippine government to pursue the deployment of Filipino household service workers in other countries.

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