'Mamamatay na ako:' OFW trafficked to Syria forced by recruiters to abort baby | Global News

‘Mamamatay na ako:’ OFW trafficked to Syria forced by recruiters to abort baby

/ 12:02 PM March 23, 2021

Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) 'Diana'

Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) “Diana” recounts how she was trafficked out of the Philippines and bared how she was allegedly forced to have an abortion before being “sold” to her employers in Syria. Screengrab from Youtube livestream of Senate women committee hearing

MANILA, Philippines — An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) trafficked into Syria was allegedly forced by her recruiters to abort her baby before she was sold to her employers in the Middle Eastern country.

“Siguro nakauwi po ako na malamig na bangkay kung lumaban ako sa kanila,” the OFW, who was only identified as “Diana” for her protection, said during the investigation of the Senate women committee led by Senator Risa Hontiveros on the trafficking of Filipino women.


(I would have gone home a cadaver if I resisted.)


Diana disclosed to senators that she was promised a job in Dubai or Egypt but was trafficked to Syria in 2017 allegedly with the help of corrupt Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers.

According to her, she and another recruit were briefed by her agent “Ma’am Beth” before their flight out of the country.

“Sinabihan ako na pagpasok ng immigration, antayin ko ang text niya kasi hindi kami pwede magkamali ng punta ng ibang counter. Through text, tinuturuan ako ng taga recruitment agency kung ano ang dapat gawin, step by step,” Diana told the committee.

(I was told that when I enter the immigration, I’ll have to wait for their text message because we can’t commit a mistake of going to other [BI] counter. Through text, we are being instructed by the people in the recruitment agency of what to do, step by step.)

“Sinabihan ako na babae ang nasa counter. Hindi ko lang maalala kung ano ang number ng counter,” she added.

(I was told that the person in the counter is a girl. I just can’t remember what was the number of the counter.)


When she arrived in Malaysia, she said someone from the recruitment agency fetched them at the airport. They were brought to a “house” where she said many Filipino women were also waiting for their visas.

She stayed in Malaysia for two to three weeks.

During her stay, Diana recalled accompanying one of the recruitment agents to a money remittance center to send money to their “contact” at the BI.

“Nung nasa Malaysia ako, naramdaman ko na na parang mabigat ang pakiramdam ko, hindi na din ako dinadatnan. Nagrequest ako ng pregnancy test pero di nila ako pinayagan mag test. Nung dumating na ang visa ko, lumipad na ako papuntang Syria,” she said.

(When I was in Malaysia, I had a heavy feeling, I haven’t had my period. I requested for a pregnancy test but they did not allow me to have the test. When my visa arrived, I flew to Syria.)

She said she was only able to take a medical exam when she was brought to Syria, where she found out she was pregnant.

“Nagmamakaawa ako na pauwiin ako pero hindi ako pinayagan. Sinabihan ako na, ‘kaya mo bang bayaran ang perang ginastos namin sa iyo.’ Ayoko po talaga magpalaglag pero halos sampalin ako. Wala na ako magawa kundi inumin – pinasok ko yung gamot na Cytotec sa bunganga at sa puwerta,” Diana said.

(I was begging them to let me go home but I was not allowed. I was told: “Can you afford to pay us the money we spent for you.” I really don’t want to have an abortion but they almost slap me in the face. I have no choice to drink the drug — I put the drug Cytotec inside my mouth and organ.)

She said her agency was monitoring her to ensure she was taking the medication.

“Pagkatapos noon, pinatingin lang ako sa doctor, tapos isang araw lang nakakalipas binenta na ako sa employer,” she added.

(After that, a doctor came to see me, then a day later I was sold to my employer.)

“Dinudugo pa din ako at ang sakit sakit ng pakiramdam ko. Gustong gusto ko talaga tumakas, pero di ko na nagawa. Tumawag ako sa embassy ng Pilipinas, pero hindi naman nila ako tinulungan. ‘Mamamatay na ako,’ sinabi ko sa kanila. Pero sabi nila hindi sila basta basta makakapunta ang embassy kasi mapapahamak daw sila,” she further said.

(I had bleeding and I really feel the pain. I really wanted to escape but I wasn’t able to do so. I called up the embassy of the Philippines, but people there didn’t help me. “I am dying” I told them. They said they can’t immediately deploy their people, the embassy, because they might get into trouble.)

Further, she said only received half of her promised salary of $400.

“Two years din ang nakalagay sa kontrata pero naging three years. Sobrang hirap ang pinagdaanan ko doon sa loob ng Syria,” she added.

(Two years [of work] had been indicated in the contract but it became three years. I experienced a lot of hardships inside Syria.)

Diana said she is already in the Philippines, but said she has yet to receive assistance from the government.

‘A loss for words’

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said he was “really at a loss for words” after he heard Diana’s testimony.

“I would assure my all-out support for this [Senate] investigation,” he said.

“Kaisa ako sa hangarin na mapanagot at maparusahan ang mga mapapatunayan na involved sa trafficking of Filipino women,” he added.

(I am one with you in this desire to have those involved in the trafficking of Filipino women punished.)

Earlier, a Filipino trafficking victim also came forward and sought assistance from Hontiveros’ office.

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The said victim also recounted a similar experience as Diana in terms of the alleged involvement of corrupt BI officers , who purportedly receive P50,000 for each Filipino woman trafficked out of the country.

TAGS: Features, nation, OFW, Senate women committee, Syria, Trafficking

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