Justice sought for Kankana-ey OFW

INNABUYOG, an alliance of indigenous women's organizations in the Cordillera, has called for justice for Mary Jean Balag-ey Alberto, a Kankana-ey from Mountain Province who allegedly jumped to her death October 2 in Abu Dhabi.

Innabuyog, in a statement, noted that Mary Jean’s family and relatives strongly disagree that she died by suicide.

“Less than 24 hours before her untimely demise, Mary Jean sent messages to her older sister, Marie, also an OFW working in Abu Dhabi requesting for immediate rescue,” the group said.

The group said one text message read, “Ate, puntahan niyo na ako dito. Muntik na ako’ng sakalin ni Madam. Hindi niya ako pinapakain hanggang hindi natatapos ang trabaho. Ipapulis niyo na ako! Mas gusto ko pang makulong kaysa ganito ang aking nararanasan. Ate... Ate please.”

(Ate, please come here. Madam nearly strangled me. She does not allow me to eat until I’ve finished my tasks. Please bring the police. I’d rather be thrown in jail than continue suffering.)

Innabuyog said Mary Jean was obviously maltreated by her employer. The messages also showed “a clear threat to her life”.

“We then call on our kakalian to join us and the family in calling for an impartial and thorough investigation of Mary Jean’s case, hold the employer accountable for her death and call for the repatriation of her remains. Let us not allow Mary Jean to be just another casualty of the labor export policy. Let us join hands in rage as we call for justice not only for Mary Jean but to all OFWs who suffered maltreatment and abuse,” Innabuyog said in a statement.

Mary Jean had been in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates only for three months when she fell from the 13th floor of the building where she was working.

Authorities had ruled her death as a suicide.

Innabuyog said Mary Jean’s ordeal is not an isolated case, saying there are too many stories of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that mirror her case.

The group cited Flor Contemplacion, who was accused of murder and was executed in 1995, and Joanna Demafelis, who was brutally killed and stored in a freezer by her employers.

Government records show that there is an increasing of OFW deaths, 103 in 2017 compared to 82 in 2016.


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