Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez today accompanied the family of Mark Lloyd Carmen, an overseas Filipino worker murdered by a Sudanese national in Iranian Kish Island last July 1, 2010.
Carmen went to the Abu Dhabi last April 4 via tourist visa hoping to find work. He eventually got employment in one of the hotels there but had to leave before his visit visa expired. He left for the nearest exit point in Kish Island, Iran on June 11 to await the release of his working visa which was still being processed by his employer.
On July 1, he bled to death after a Sudanese national stabbed him with a metal nail polisher. His roommates were unable to immediately bring him to the hospital as, under Sudanese law, only local authorities were allowed to take him. He died ten minutes after he arrived at the hospital, two hours after the stabbing incident.
Upon learning of his death, Leila Gonzaga, a relative residing in Abu Dhabi, went to Kish Island to claim his remains. The hotel where he was staying paid for the hospital expenses and the airfare for the transfer of his remains to the Philippine embassy in Tehran, capital of Iran.
Gonzaga was then told by embassy officials that it was the family’s responsibility to shoulder the cost of autopsy and airfare expenses for the repatriation of his body to the Philippines amounting to almost half a million pesos. Sought for help, the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (DFA-OUMWA), informed Carmen’s mother that they had to pay USD8,000, or approximately P360,000, for the repatriation of her son’s remains.
On her visit to the morgue, Gonzaga was also shocked to learn that, apart from Carmen’s, at least a dozen more bodies of OFWs remain unclaimed in Iran morgues.
“This is cause for national outrage. The DFA was claiming that one of the main reasons for the delay in the repatriation of Carmen’s body was because many more bodies were being processed,” Martinez said.
He added, “The DFA should have no reason to justify failure to repatriate remains when it has P100 million in repatriation funds. Saan na napunta ang pondong ito? Bakit ipinapabalikat sa mga pamilya ang expenses? We demand that the remains of OFWs in Iran be transported to the Philippines with haste and not a minute to lose.”
Martinez said that in the case of Carmen, it was not even the DFA that shouldered and processed the repatriation. Carmen’s family sought the help of Taguig Rep. Freddie Tinga who brought the case to the DFA’s attention. “Kung hindi pa sa tulong na naman ng third party malamang ay pinagpasa-pasahan na naman ng DFA ang pamilya,” he said.
Martinez criticized the DFA for its “grave neglect” and called on the Aquino administration to give appropriate attention to the immediate return of the remains of OFWs in Iran morgues.
He also said that the Aquino administration should also prioritize the repatriation of at least 10,000 OFWs stranded in Kish Island. “Huwag na naman sanang hintayin ng gobyerno na maging malamig na bangkay na rin ang ating mga kababayan doon bago pa sila mapauwi rito.”
Carmen’s remains were brought to Western Taguig for his wake. He is survived by his wife, Baican, and two children. ###