Recruiter faces probe for death of migrant worker
MANILA, Philippines – Local recruiter Fors International Inc faces a probe before the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) over a migrant domestic helper's death.
On Thursday, February 26, POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac ordered the POEA adjudication office to file an administrative case against Fors International and subject it to preventive suspension in accordance with POEA rules and regulations.
The order comes on the heels of a report by pro-migrant workers group Migrante International on what it tagged as the "mysterious death" of Fors' recruited worker Rochelle Lechido Masubay.
Deployed as a helper to Saudi Arabia last May 25, Masubay allegedly killed herself months after. The late infomation about her death, which took half a year to reach her family, raised concerns she might have died of other causes.
Migrante further alleged that Masubay's common-law husband was forced by the POEA conciliation unit to sign a quit claim, signifying no intention to file cases over his partner's passing away, in exchange for the expedited repatriation of her body.
Belying the claim, Cacdac said a "compromise agreement with quitclaim and release" is neither meant to deprive beneficiaries of due compensation nor step on the rights of any overseas Filipino worker (OFW).
Asas for Recruitment, the local recruiter's Saudi partner, will also be investigated.
The Philippines is a known labor-sending country, with over 10 million Filipinos either working or permanently residing overseas.
Over a tenth of the country's gross national income comes from OFWs' remittances.
More questions than answers
Migrante International secretary general Sol Pillas said the real circumstances of Masubay’s death have to be uncovered.
In a profile and narrative released by the group, it said Masubay is a native of Tacloban, Leyte, and a mother of two.
Migrante said her partner Malinao was no longer able to speak with her after June 26 despite repeated efforts. He found out about her death last January 2015, when he went to Fors International's office to report her missing.
The group claimed that the recruitment agency told Malinao that Masubay committed suicide last October 16, but her death certificate shows her death dated July 1.
The domestic helper "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," said Migrante, quoting the story relayed to Malinao by Fors International.
"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," Pillas said.
Cacdac himself demanded answers from Fors International and its Saudi partner.
"How did Rochelle die? Why was her death seemingly kept a secret? What did the recruiter do to monitor her condition? And why did it seem like her listed beneficiaries were not made aware of mandated benefits like compulsory insurance indemnity under Republic Act No 10022?" he asked in Filipino. – Rappler.com