Marissa Cristobal, mother of Benbon Cristobal, one of the victims of the Eton residences accident, could only hope for the best for her family. She admits that she still has not recovered from the death of her eldest son.
By PATRICIA REY LARA
Marissa Cristobal’s son, Benbon Cristobal, was the breadwinner in the family.
“I used to sell tilapia from Batangas at the Muñoz market,” Marissa, a mother of ten, said. “Unfortunately, I did not earn enough and the business failed.”
Now, to sustain the needs of her children, she depends on her husband, Rodolfo Cristobal, who is working at a factory making ceramics.
“ I still have not recovered from Benbon’s death,” Marissa said, describing their situation after the death of her son. The pain of their loss is evident in her eyes.
Unfair work benefits
According to Marissa, she received P150, 000 ($3,488) from Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay and another P50, 000 ( $1,162) worth of groceries from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) after the incident.
She said that she gave half of the money amounting to P70, 000 ($1,627) to Benbon’s live in partner and his four year old daughter. The other half of the money given by the Makati mayor was spent for her son’s wake. The funeral service for Benbon was shouldered by the Eton Management.
When Benbon was still alive and working at the construction of the Eton Residences, Marissa related her son only receives a minimum wage of P280.00 ($6.50) per day. A hundred pesos is spent for his transportation fare.
“We get only $4.”
Also, Marissa is still waiting for the SSS (Social Security System) benefits of her son.
“We are being given the run-around by the SSS. We were first told to go to the SSS office in Malate. We were told to just return to follow up our claim. We returned again and again to no avail. Then we were told to go to the SSS office in Antipolo instead to file our claim,” said Marissa
Marissa could not understand why they should return to Antipolo, where they live, to claim the monetary benefit from SSS for their deceased son. Before the Holy Week, a SSS official told them that a certain Dodie Borja would do a house to house visit to every family of the Eton accident victims. They were visited by Borja and the SSS promised the families that they would be informed about the developments of their claim after the Holy Week. However, no one came.
“If we are not entitled to any claim, why don’t they just say so?”
Marissa also shares that her second son, Rodolfo Cristobal Jr., is also suffering from unfair wages at his work as caretaker for a warehouse in Manila.
According to her son, before he worked for the agency, he signed a contract stating that in three months, he will be a regular employer and his initial pay of P303 ($7) a day will be increased to P404 ($9.40), the minimum wage. Unfortunately and for unknown reasons, the employer did not give Rodolfo a P404 wage just like what the contract stated. Worse, there were so many deductions.
“Rodolfo was shown the deductions,” Marissa said. “There were so many deductions such as for the canteen and an item with the heading ‘others.’ But there were not details or explanation what falls under others. With his P303 daily wage and the numerous deductions, what would be left for us?”
There were deductions for his SSS, PAG-IBIG and PhilHealth. But when Rodolfo finally quit his job and when it’s time to claim his assistance from these three institutions, Rodolfo did not receive a single centavo nor any benefit.
“I learned that the gondola that my son and his companions rode during the accident figured in a previous accident already. Why did they still use it,” Marissa angrily asked.
Marissa could only hope for the best for her family. She admits that she still has not recovered from the death of her eldest son.
“My only wish is that what happened to my son would not happen to anybody anymore,” Marissa said.