For a 44-year old single parent like Mary Jean Alberto, seeing her children complete their education and attain a bright future was her greatest desire. However, realizing a comfortable life for her family was just so impossible in a country where workers are afflicted with unstable jobs and depressed wages.
Parting from the warm embrace of her loved ones, Mary Jean Alberto decided to leave for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on 7 July 2019. Her sons Rojan and Ronel were hopeful that when life gets better, they will all be reunited again. Little did they know that it would be the last time they get to see her alive. Just a few hours from the time that she sent her messages of distress, pleading to be rescued from the hands of her employer, she was declared dead on 2 October 2019. It was none other than Mary Jean’s employer who revealed it to her family by phone.
According to the employer, Mary Jean killed herself by jumping from the 13th floor unit of the high rise building where she was working. The world crumbled for the Alberto family upon finding out the gruesome death of their mother. For somebody who has always been known as a stouthearted and a resolute woman, her bereaved family refused to believe that Mary Jean committed suicide. Her daughter Rohjean who is also an OFW in UAE recounted the joyous time she spent with her mother just a few days before her death.
It took eleven days before the Philippine embassy offered help to the family. By that time, pieces of evidence that could have provided answers surrounding her death were already cleared by the employer. Rojan, Ronel and Mary Jean’s ailing mother Nanay Flordeliza received her back inside a casket. In their great sorrow and anguish, they demand justice for their slain. How was it that the path which they thought would lead to the fulfillment of their dreams brought so much pain, agony and even death? How many deaths will have to occur before the government wakes up from its slumber and correct its unrelenting negligence?
Migrante International is one with the Alberto family in seeking justice for Mary Jean. They want the perpetrator to be brought to justice. Her tragic case points to government apathy and the absence of a clearly laid out program to assist OFW victims and their troubled families. The Alberto family should get assistance and negligent government officials should be held accountable.
Mary Jean’s supporters and concerned residents in her community understand the correlation of her death along with the issues faced by OFWs wretched by the government’s corrupt labour export programme to the overall problem of the Filipino people battered by the unaddressed roots of forced migration and underdevelopment.
The strong resolve of Mary Jean’s loved ones, friends and fellow residents in the community to unite in this time of grief is not merely an observance of a sacred custom but their conscious wielding of solidarity to struggle for justice.
As long as genuine services to OFWs are absent and the Philippine government continually denies Filipino workers with regular employment and living wages, justice will remain elusive for Mary Jean Alberto and to all Filipino migrants in distress.