Kin of OFW who died under mysterious circumstances in Saudi decry white-wash by PH gov’t

rochelle masubay picThe family of Rochelle Lechido Masubay, a Filipina domestic worker who died under mysterious circumstances in Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, slammed government officials for “white-washing” and “covering-up” the cause of her death.

Masubay’s death was declared a “suicide”. Her family, however, suspect foul play. Masubay’s family also said that the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) Welfare Employment Office asked them to sign a “quit-claim” and “compromise agreement” supposedly as requirement for the repatriation of her remains. (Please see attached documents)

Masubay, a native of Tacloban, Leyte and mother of two, was deployed to KSA by Fors Recruitment Agency on May 25, 2014. Her common-law husband Rodolfo Malinao was able to talk to her for the last time on June 26, 2014. Despite multiple efforts, he was not able to contact or talk to her since.

Last January 2015, Malinao went to the office of Fors Recruitment Agency to report her missing. They told her that she had been dead since October 16, 2014 and that she committed suicide. Her death certificate, however, indicates her date of death on July 1, 2014. (See attached document) 

Malinao said that the agency’s staff told him that Masubay committed suicide. They told him that Masubay allegedly locked herself up in her room for two days prompting her employer to call the police. When the police forcibly opened her door, she was found dead with a knife stuck to her heart.

On February 3, 2015, Malinao went to the POEA to arrange for the repatriation of her remains. It was only then that he was able to secure her death certificate from the Saudi Ministry of Interior Civil Affairs and a certification from the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah ruling “suicide” as the cause of her death.

It was also then that he was asked to sign a Quit-Claim in exchange for Php119,240 from a certain Pioneer Insurance Agency. In the document, Malinao was asked to state that he would not file any criminal or civil complaint against Fors Recruitment Agency, the POEA or “any administrative agency”. Malinao said that he was forced to sign the document because they told him that it was the only way to expedite the repatriation of his wife’s remains. (See attached)

“First of all, we demand to know the real circumstances of Masubay’s death. Why did it take too long, half a year, for the family to be informed of her death? Worse, the family was duped into signing a compromise agreement ensuring that they would not file any charges, under the pretext that such a document is a requirement for the repatriation of her remains.” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine government to investigate Masubay’s death and the reasons for the “compromise agreement”. “They are obviously hiding something. The family has strong reason to believe that Masubay did not commit suicide. Nowhere in the repatriation process does it state a compromise agreement as a requirement for repatriation. What reasons does the POEA have to white-wash or cover-up Masubay’s mysterious death?”

Pillas said that Migrante International is presently coordinating with Masubay’s husband in Caloocan and her family in Tacloban. “We join her family in their quest for justice.”

Masubay’s remains arrived in Tacloban last February 14, 2015. Yesterday, her neighbors and friends in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan held a candle-lighting activity calling for justice for her death as she was laid to rest in Tacloban.

Pillas said that they will campaign for Masubay’s case as Migrante International gears to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion this year. Migrante International and its chapters all over the world are gearing to kick-off its year-long “Remember Flor@20 Campaign” on March 17, the date of Contemplacion’s death anniversary. ###

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Aquino’s “doomsday” statement mars Pope’s imminent joyous visit – Migrante

pope migGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today slammed Pres. Benigno Aquino’s seemingly “doomsday” statement on the upcoming Papal visit.

In Aquino’s message to the public on the arrival of Pope Francis, dated January 12, he called on the public “to exercise utmost discipline…cooperate with authorities…remain vigilant, take all precautions necessary…keep calm; do not push; do not run.”

“It is as if instead of a joyous affair, the President and Malacanang are expecting chaos to ensue. This is not a very welcoming message to the Pope and it sends a message to the international community that the Filipino people are nothing but an unruly bunch,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez said that Aquino may also be pre-empting expected activities appealing to the Pope to heed the cries of the poor and oppressed Filipino people against wrongdoings in government.

“Aquino knows too well that the Papal visit will once again bring the Philippines under international scrutiny. He cannot have the Pope, a staunch advocate against corruption and greed, denouncing transgressions in his government. With this statement, Aquino may well be attempting to prevent international humiliation by passing off well-meaning welcomers as nothing but rowdy, undisciplined hooligans.”

Martinez said Aquino “is nothing like the Pope who is much-loved by the Filipino people”.

“Unlike the anti-poor Aquino, Pope Francis has high regard for the masses. He is humble enough to listen to the cries and pleas of the people and to speak on their behalf. He is open to dialogue and gives primacy to the interests of the poor and oppressed. This is why Aquino is loath to have him see the sentiments and real conditions of the Filipino people under his presidency.”

Migrante International is part of the multisectoral People’s Committee to Welcome the Pope (People’s Welcome) which will holding series of activities in time for the Papal visit on January 15-18, 2015. ###