POEA Investigates Death of OFW in Saudi Arabia; Raps vs. Recruiter Eyed

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration is looking into the reported death of an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia, even as it eyes charges against the OFW’s recruitment firm for possible violation of regulations.

POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac on Thursday night said, “Wala pong whitewash sa imbestigasyon sa pagkamatay ng kasambahay sa Saudi na si Rochelle Lechido Masubay noong 2014.”

In a post on his Twitter account, Cacdac also said, “Tahasan po nating aalamin kung ano ang nangyari… at kung bakit hindi nagbigay ng report ang recruiter ni Rochelle patungkol dito, at kung bakit tila hindi nagpakatotoo ang recruiter sa mga kaanak [ng biktima].”

“Inatasan ko na po ang POEA Adjudication Office na magsampa ng kaso laban sa Fors International at Asas for Recruitment, at magpataw ng preventive suspension alinsunod sa POEA Rules and Regulations,” he added.

He said the matter was brought to his attention by militant migrant workers’ group Migrante International.

Cacdac said that while Masubay’s kin and her recruiter Fors International had signed a compromise agreement with quit claim and release, such an agreement cannot be used to deny Masubay of her rights or her benefits.

Also, he said Fors International and its Saudi partner Asas may have much to explain, particularly how she died and why details of her death remain hazy.

“Paano nabawian ng buhay si Rochelle? Bakit tila inilihim ang kanyang pagkamatay? Bakit hindi nagsumite ng report patungkol dito sa POEA? May ginawa ba ang Fors International at Asas for Recruitment para masabing binantayan nila ang kalagayan ni Rochelle, mula nang nakarating siya sa Saudi noong Mayo 2014?” Cacdac said.

“At bakit tila walang hayag na pagbibigay-alam na may mga benepisyo ang mga tagapagmana ni Rochelle, katulad ng compulsory insurance indemnity na sang-ayon sa Republic Act No. 10022?” he added.

Migrante International said Masubay died under “mysterious circumstances,” saying the death was declared a suspected suicide but her family suspects foul play.

It questioned the “quit-claim” and “compromise agreement” the OFW’s kin were supposedly made to sign as requirement for the repatriation of her remains.

Migrante said Masubay is a native of Tacloban City and a mother of two. She was deployed to Saudi Arabia by Fors Recruitment Agency on May 25, 2014.

“Her common-law husband Rodolfo Malinao was able to talk to her for the last time on June 26, 2014. Despite multiple efforts, he was not able to contact or talk to her since,” it said.

Last January, Malinao went to the office of Fors Recruitment Agency to report her missing wife, and was told she died on October 16, 2014, and that she committed suicide.

But Migrante said the death certificate indicates her date of death on July 1, 2014.

Last February 3, Malinao went to the POEA to arrange for the repatriation of her remains and secured her death certificate from the Saudi Ministry of Interior Civil Affairs and a certification from the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah ruling “suicide” as the cause of her death.

He was also asked to sign a “quit claim” in exchange for P119,240 from a certain Pioneer Insurance Agency.

“In the document, Malinao was asked to state that he would not file any criminal or civil complaint against Fors Recruitment Agency, the POEA or ‘any administrative agency,'” the group said.

Migrante added Malinao claimed that he was forced to sign the document because they told him that it was the only way to expedite the repatriation of his wife’s remains.

Masubay’s remains arrived in Tacloban last February 14. Her neighbors and friends in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City in Metro Manila held a candle-lighting activity calling for justice for her.

(Source: Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News)

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