Over death of Pinay DH in Saudi
SENATOR Raffy Tulfo has recommended the filing of criminal charges against a local employment agency and its employees who were “responsible” for the death of Filipino domestic helper (DH) Jovelyn Tang Andres.
Tulfo, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, said the employment agency “failed” to fulfill its duty to monitor and ensure the safety of Andres, who was abused in Saudi Arabia and eventually died.
“Mayroong nabuwis na buhay… Hindi lang suspensiyon, kailangan masampahan din ng kasong kriminal ang mga taong naging dahilan ng pagkamatay ng isang OFW (overseas Filipino worker) dahil sa kanilang kapabayaan,” said Tulfo.
“Bagamat inamin ng [employment agency] ang kanilang pagkakamali at humingi ng pasensiya, hindi na nito maibabalik ang buhay ni Jovelyn. Panahon na para managot ang mga pabayang ahensya,” he said.
During the Senate hearing of the Migrant Workers Committee on Wednesday, Tulfo asked the agency president to explain their obvious neglect of duty to monitor Andres’ condition.
The recruitment agency president claimed that he was unaware of Andres’ situation prior to her death but admitted that they indeed “failed to monitor” her situation and afford her the protection she deserved because the foreign recruitment agency was supposedly “unreachable”.
Notably, Andres went to Saudi Arabia after being recruited from Saranggani by an agent of a recruitment agency, which is the counterpart of the “grilled” local agency in Saudi.
Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Toots Ople confirmed that there was already a clear violation of the law regarding Andres’ recruitment because a foreign recruitment agency is “not authorized” to recruit workers directly from the Philippines.
Therefore, the said agent (who recruited Andres) is an “illegal recruiter” entertained by the local agency despite knowing that it was against the law.
Based on government agencies and fellow OFWs, Andres’ employer only knew about her pregnancy when she was already in Saudi, which prompted them to return her to the recruitment agency.
Instead of helping her, they allegedly mixed medicine into her food and drinks to abort the baby without her consent. The agency even “sold” Andres to three different employers despite her plea to just go back to the Philippines.
An autopsy report found that Andres, who was found dead inside the bathroom of the recruitment agency’s accommodation last March 25, died because of asphyxia by ligature.
A psychologist confirmed that Andres most likely “committed suicide due to post-partum depression”, atop all the hardship she went through from the abortion and being passed on from one employer to another.
Given the circumstances, Tulfo also recommended filing criminal charges against the female recruiter/agent, recruitment agency, and her foreign employers.
“Eto pong… illegal recruiter, dapat ay masampahan din ng kasong kriminal. Now, meron po kaming balita, na papunta po siyang Saudi sa Friday. Baka puwede sigurong mapigilan muna siya dahil haharap pa siya sa kasong illegal recruitment. Ayokong makawala ito,” he said.
Ople assured Tulfo that they would help find the suspect and hold her accountable for her crime.
In the case of foreign employers and the recruitment agency, Ople said they are already building a joint technical group with the Ministry of Social Resource and Social Development in Saudi to ensure that appropriate actions will be taken against them.
During the hearing, Tulfo also asked the recruitment agency president to explain the continued operation of the involved employment agency under a different name despite the suspension of its license, but the latter claimed he was unaware of it.
To prove his claim, Tulfo said one of his staff members tried messaging the Facebook page of the employment agency and individual people connected to it, and his staff got a reply that the recruitment of OFWs is still ongoing, but this time “under a new name”.
Due to this, Tulfo ordered DMW Usec. Bernard Olalia to closely monitor recidivists like recruitment or job recruitment agencies who are putting up a new agency after a different name amid their suspension, to which the latter agreed to comply.
Tulfo, who has been fighting for OFWs’ rights for more than two decades, said DMW should strengthen its monitoring system of OFWs in different countries by ensuring regular visits to their workplaces, as well as psychological exams to check their state of mind and find out if they are overworked, homesick or experiencing other symptoms that may lead to “depression”.