An Abu Dhabi court handed down a 5-year sentence to the female Moroccan employer accused of being behind the death of Mary Jean Alberto, a 44-year old Filipino domestic helper who only started working for the Moroccan household in July 2019. Mary Jean’s daughter Rohjean who also works in UAE expressed her gratefulness. “We sincerely thank each and everyone of you for all the support, effort, and love you have given us, especially to me and my siblings. On behalf of our beloved mama, thank you so much! Definitely this is not yet the end of this fight but at least we reached this point.”
Rohjean however urged for more vigilance following the elevation of the case to Abu Dhabi’s court of appeals. “As far as I know, the convict still has three chances of appeals, so her years in prison could still be increased or reduced depending on the outcome of the appeals,” Rohjean cautioned.
Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion backed Rohjean’s call for vigilance. “Migrante International welcomes the court verdict but we still need to be more vigilant in view of the possibility that the prison sentence could either be reduced or overturned in response to the employer’s ensuing appeals.”
Mary Jean Alberto died on 2 October 2019 after falling from the 13th floor of the high rise residential building where she worked inside the unit of her Moroccan employers. Just hours before her death, Mary Jean sent messages of distress to her daughter Rohjean and to her sister Marie pleading to be rescued from her employer. Her Moroccan female employer however denied accusations and argued that Mary Jean committed suicide by jumping from their unit. Recounting their mother’s terrible experience of abuse and maltreatment, the Alberto family rejected the employer’s version of their mother’s death.
In media interviews last year, Mary Jean’s sons Ronel and Rojan decried the Duterte government’s snail-paced response to their mother’s case. It took eleven days before the bereaved Alberto family received offers of help from the Philippine Embassy in UAE. “It was only after the media covered our demand for justice that government officials scrambled to deal with our mother’s case. By that time, pieces of evidence that could have helped in the case have already been cleared by her Moroccan employer.” Ronel said.
Responding to this latest development in Mary Jean’s case, prayers were offered for the Alberto family during the community mass held at the St. Andrews Theological Seminary Chapel (SATS) in Quezon City on Thursday morning, 3 March. Students, faculty and staff of SATS along with community members of the Episcopal Mission Center also lit candles to express their support in continuing the fight for justice for Mary Jean Alberto.
“This stride in the case of Mary Jean Alberto is attributed to the collective action of all her supporters: from the Alberto family, their community in Antipolo, the OFW community in UAE, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and the vigorous support of other Churches and Migrante members across the world. Right now and from day one, our commitment to support the Alberto family in their fight for justice is stronger than ever. May all Filipinos stand with them as their legal battle takes on a higher course,” Joanna Concepcion of Migrante International stated.