MANILA, Philippines – A migrant workers’ group called on the government Saturday to look into the mysterious death of an overseas Filipino worker temporarily housed in a shelter managed by the Philippine Embassy in Bahrain.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East regional coordinator, reported that 31-year-old Kathleen Ann Viray Ilagan from Davao was found dead Wednesday inside the Philippine Embassy shelter.
In a statement, Monterona said he received an electronic mail from a former staff member of the Center for Overseas Workers, a Davao-based nongovernmental organization providing assistance to OFWs and their families, seeking assistance on behalf of the family of Ilagan to look into her death.
Ilagan reportedly left the country sometime in July 2012 to work as pastry chef for a company in Bahrain.
According to her family, her deployment documents show that she was deployed by HRD Employment Consultant and Multi Services Inc., a Manila-based agency, Monterona added.
Quoting Ilagan’s kin, Monterona said the OFW left her job earlier this month and proceeded to the Philippine Embassy to seek repatriation. She was allowed to stay at the Philippine Embassy’s shelter while waiting for her departure.
Monterona added that based on the report received by her family, Ilagan apparently committed suicide.
“But the family members could not believe it because they claimed she had no serious problems that would drive her to take her own life,” Monterona added in a statement.
“All she wanted was to go home,” Monterona quoted Ilagan’s relative as saying.
Monterona said the death “should not easily be declared as suicide without conducting a thorough investigation,” even as he called on the Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs to investigate the case.
He said the DOJ should consider sending investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent probe given that the incident happened inside the Philippine Embassy-run shelter.
“Her family is seeking justice and we will join and actively campaign for it,” he added.
According to Monterona, his group monitored an annual average of 8 to 10 cases of mysterious deaths involving OFWs in the Middle East from 2008 to 2012.