A migrant rights group on Thursday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to conduct an investigation into what it believes is the suspicious death of a domestic helper who allegedly committed suicide in Saudi Arabia.
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center said Jennifer Ross Acuna-Reyes, who had been working in Saudi Arabia for only two weeks, fell from the seventh floor flat of her employer in Jeddah last May 28.
Susan Ople, who heads the center, urged the DFA and the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia to conduct an investigation into Reyes' "mysterious" death due to conflicting claims by witnesses, the victim's family, and her employer.
"The family is convinced that their daughter did not commit suicide," Ople said. "Her employer is claiming otherwise."
"Suicide is never presumed"
Sought for comment, Charmaine Aviquivil from the DFA's Office of Public Diplomacy Executive Director said embassy lawyers are now investigating the case with Saudi authorities "because suicide is never presumed."
"The investigation will be extremely thorough especially because of the allegations that she died in her employer's flat, where she is supposed to be safe," she told GMA News Online.
"The embassy will continue to monitor the case and provide updates as soon as available."
Reyes' death was deemed suspicious by the policy center as she was able to speak with her husband, hotel worker John Paul Reyes, four days prior to the incident, and that she had told him that she was fine.
Cleaners who worked in the same building claimed foul smell emanating from the employer's flat prior to the recovery of Jenny's body, the group said, adding witnesses supposedly saw very little blood in the area where the body was found.
“According to Filipinos living near the building, there was hardly any blood found on the site where she allegedly fell from the 7th floor and landed with her face down on the grass,” Larry Acuna, Sr., the OFW’s father, said.
Ople also called for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Philippine Embassy to blacklist the OFW’s foreign employer.
Meanwhile, Reyes' Philippine recruitment agency, Sphinx Group Manpower Provider, Inc., was called on to provide the OFW's family their full assistance in the repatriation of her body and obtaining her full benefits from the employer.
The Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration has already pledged to provide Reyes' family other forms of assistance in addition to her death benefits. —KBK, GMA News