MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is looking into the reported death of 15 Filipina domestics in Lebanon.
“We are probing on each and every case. Siyempre, yong mga dumadaan sa embassy < i>na cases, inaaral namin (We are probing on each and every case. We of course study the cases that reach the DFA)," DFA spokesperson Claro Cristobal told GMANews.TV in a phone interview on Tuesday.
New York-based international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) earlier reported that 15 Filipina migrant workers died in Lebanon in the last 20 months, or from January 2007 to August 2008. . The deaths occurred amid the existing deployment ban of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the said war-torn country in Western Asia.
On Tuesday, Cristobal said the report alarmed the DFA prompting the agency to conduct investigation on the reported deaths.
“Of course we are alarmed, that’s why there is a ban," said Cristobal.
The HRW said five of the Filipinas died after falling from high floors or buildings; four others succumbed to either lung problem or heart failure; two others died due to carbon monoxide suffocation; one through a car accident; another died of cancer, while the last one gave in to brain hemorrhage due to high tension.
Only three of the 15 dead Filipino domestics were identified — Alima Nuraya, 26, who reportedly died of carbon monoxide suffocation; Anelyn Sayson, 21, who reportedly fell from a high floor; and Jwana Sizar Firualdi, 24, who was believed to have committed suicide by hanging.
Data from the Philippine government showed that there were 29, 412 OFWs in Lebanon as of 2006.
When the fighting between Israeli and Hezbollah forces broke out in mid-2006, deployment ban to Lebanon was imposed among OFWs. About 6,000 Filipinos, mostly domestics, were flown back to the Philippines at the time.
According to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, nearly two of every three OFWs evacuated from Lebanon in 2006 were undocumented.
In May 2008, migrant advocacy group Migrante-Middle East asked how 5,000 additional OFWs could have entered Lebanon amid the existing deployment ban. The group said it got the information on the 5,000 OFWs from the Filipino-Lebanese Friendship Association based in Lebanon. - KJT TAN, GMANews.TV