Relatives of distressed OFWs expressed support to Mary Jane Veloso while expressing their frustrations over the seeming lack of action from the government.
By LHEALYN F. VICTORIA and JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – More cases of overseas Filipino workers in distress were brought to the attention of the Department of Foreign Affairs as their relatives join Mary Jane Veloso’s family in calling for swift action to save the Filipina on death row.
“Why are you always clueless? Why?” Lani Dizon, sister of Marilyn Restor, an OFW arbitrarily held by her employee, asked in a protest action outside the DFA office in Pasay City today, Apr. 22.
During the protest, most relatives expressed similar sentiment – the DFA kept them in the dark and, at times, they are more knowledgeable on the case than DFA officials.
“Do you still trust the DFA?” a staff of Migrante International asked, to which protesters and relatives of OFWs in distress replied a resounding “no!”
During the protest, Dizon, in tears, stomped her foot in frustration while she was narrating her sister’s ordeal and their family’s struggle to get information about her case. She said her sister was “kidnapped” by her employer who belongs to Saudi Arabia’s royal family.
The government, she said, knows her sister’s case and even her location but has yet to rescue Restor and two other Filipino companions nearly a year after they were held by her employer.
Dizon and five relatives of other OFWs in distress submitted a letter before the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrants Welfare Affairs, addressed to Undersecretary Hesus Yabes, to get updates about their loved ones.
Martinez told Bulatlat.com these letters were meant to follow up on efforts of the DFA to look into these cases, per their dialogue last March 23.
“It has been one month and we have yet to get substantial updates from them,” he said.
So far, the migrants group has received a letter from the DFA, stating that they have already informed the respective next-of-kin on the updates of the case, which is “follow up with embassy.”
In a forum last Apr. 21, families of OFWs in distress also expressed dismay over the apparent disservice to them by the government.
“She wants to help our family, that’s the only reason why she pursued the idea of working abroad,” Editha Dacanay, mother of OFW Rose Dacanay, tearfully said during the forum.
Her daughter left for Saudi Arabia in May 31, 2013 to work as a domestic helper. After just 15 days, Rose landed in prison in Riyadh, accused of killing her employer.
Rose told her family and the Migrante International that three men robbed their home in Riyadh and then killed her employer. She was spared as one of the three men dragged her in a corner and attempted to rape her. The police, however, accused her of committing the crime as her fingerprints were all over the house.
She has languished in jail in Riyadh since June 15, 2013. recently, charges against Rose were dropped but her exit paper has yet to be signed.
“I do not know what to do with our government anymore. I need to know if they are really working hard on the case of my daughter. It is a simple question,” Dacanay said, exasperated.
Rodolfo Malino Jr., husband of OFW Rochelle Masubay, said he hopes that no one else will suffer their family’s fate.
Masubay purportedly committed suicide in Saudi Arabia on Oct. 16, 2014. Her family only learned about it last Jan. 3, 2015. Malino, however, said they received a police report from Saudi Arabia stating that his wife died in July 1, 2014.
This, he said, raised questions and doubts on the real circumstances of his wife’s death.
“Would you waste effort and money to go abroad just to kill yourself?” Malino said.
Migrante International said an average of P30 million ($680,000) has been allocated to the Legal Assistance Fund since Aquino became president. This is a far cry from the supposed P100 million ($2.27 million) fund, as stipulated in the Republic Act No. 10022 or the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers, the group said.
The Magna Carta stipulates that the P100 million ($2.27 million) fund would be sourced from the following: P50 million ($1.13 million) from the Presidential Social Fund, P30 million ($680,000) from the Contingency Fund of the President and P20 million ($453,000) from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
Last December 2014, Aquino vetoed the said legal assistance fund and placed it under “conditional implementation” subject to the approval of the Department of Budget and Management.
The Veloso family and their supporters are still pursuing last ditch efforts to save Mary Jane. Her sister, along with Migrante Sectoral Party chairwoman Connie Bragas-Regalado, flew to Jakarta last Apr. 17. Mary Jane’s father, Cesar, along with two lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, also left for Jakarta yesterday, Apr. 21, to meet the Indonesian lawyers supposedly hired by the Philippine embassy.
“We are hoping to the very end that she will be saved. Please help my daughter because she is innocent,” Celia, Mary Jane’s mother, said during the protest action.