Migrante-Alberta demands assistance to dead OFW, familyA Filipina caregiver`s remains will arrive in Manila tomorrow without the help of the Philippine government.
Migrante-Alberta, Canada insists that it is the responsibility of the Philippine government to assist Filipinos in and out of the Philippines, dead or alive. Thus, the migrant group believes it should help in the repatriation of a Filipina caregiver`s remains and provide assistance to her two children.
``The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should help repatriate Merlinda Agos` remains back to her family through the agency`s repatriation fund, without any alibi,`` said Migrante Alberta coordinator Gina Martirez Doblado after the Philippine officials in Canada refused to assist in the repatriation of Agos' remains. She cited the case of slain caregiver Jocelyn Dulnuan in Ontario which the DFA, upon pressure from migrant groups, helped repatriate in October 2007.
Agos, a 49 year-old nanny in Haddow Drive, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, collapsed on January 3 at a retail store where she was sending money to her family in Cabangcalan, Negros Occidental, a province in the Visayas reion. She was sent to the University of Alberta Hospital and was diagnosed with brain aneurysm, a condition where blood vessels going to the brain bulge and rupture.
Maria Cristina Mangulabnan, a fellow nanny, said that Agos was already in a state of comatose when she and some friends arrived at the hospital. Agos succumbed to death past 11 p.m. of the same day after her family in the Philippines, in a phone conversation with the doctor, decided that the respirator supporting Agos's life could already be removed.
Mangulabnan also said that Philippine representatives in Canada refused to provide assistance for Agos'repatriation. On January 5, Agos's case was brought to the attention of Philippine embassy in Vancouver by her third employer. The employer was referred to the local consulate based in Edmonton. But Agos' employer was told that since her benefit membership with the [Philippine] government was expired, it is now the employer's responsibility to send her body to the Philippines.
Mangulabnan and fellow nannies sought the help of Migrante Alberta, a non-profit group for Filipino migrants, in exposing the Philippine representatives'neglect of OFWs in need .
Repatriation is one of the services Overseas Filipino Workers subscribe to through a membership with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). A $25.00 (US) is paid upon processing of contract and repaid when a new contract is entered into by a Filipino overseas worker.
"Agos worked as a domestic helper in Taiwan before going to Canada. Like her, to the surprise of her fellow nannies, none of them is an OWWA member because they were not informed about this when they moved working to Canada," said Doblado. "The OFWs have been kept uninformed, and now, in the case of Agos, victim of the Philippine officials' negligence!"
Present and previous employers and the Agbuloy Christian ministry contributed to cover the cost of repatriation of Agos' remains that amounts to CAD $7,800. Agos' friends also solicited from their employers and fellow nannies.
"This is an insult to her and to many OFWs who are doing service to our country through our remittances," Mangulabnan said, lambasting the inaction by the Edmonton consulate official Esmeralda Agbulos.
"Our group also demands that assistance to Agos' family in Negros should be provided by the government," Doblado said. "Even if we pay our OWWA membership, we actually get nothing in return in times we most needed it. They have refused to help the dead OFW, and now they will do the same to her children, saying that her OWWA membership already lapsed for her family to avail such benefits."
"We have been sacrificing for the Philippine economy and yet we still get this kind of disservice," said Doblado. Canada has been among the top 5 source countries of dollar remittances in the past few years. Of the more than US$16 B total remittances in 2008, more than US$1B was from Canada.
"With or without membership or any form of payment, OFWs and families deserve the assistance they needed, anytime, anywhere and from anyone in the government," ended Doblado.