Senator Raffy Tulfo has recommended the filing of criminal charges against local agency Gulf Synergy Employment Inc. and its employees who were allegedly responsible for the death of Filipino domestic helper Jovelyn Tang Andres.
Tulfo, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, said Gulf Synergy failed to fulfill its duty to monitor and ensure the safety of Andres, who was abused in Saudi Arabia and eventually died.
During theSenate hearing of the Migrant Workers Committee on Wednesday, Tulfo asked Gulf Synergy President Arnulfo Babiera to explain their obvious neglect of duty to monitor Andres’ condition. Macon Ramos-Araneta
Babiera claimed he was unaware of Andres’ situation before her death, but admitted that they indeed failed to monitor her situation and afford her the protection she deserved because the foreign recruitment agency was supposedly unreachable.
Andres went to Saudi Arabia after being recruited from Saranggani by a certain Emma Fernandez, an agent of Manabe Aleklas Recruitment Agency, which is the counterpart of Gulf Synergy in Saudi.
Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Toots Ople confirmed that there was already a clear violation of law with regards to Andres’ recruitment because a foreign recruitment agency like Manabe is not authorized to directly recruit workers from the Philippines.
Due to this, Fernandez is an illegal recruiter entertained by Gulf Synergy despite knowing that what she was doing is against the law.
Based on government agencies and fellow OFWs, Andres’ employer only knew about her pregnancy when she was already in Saudi, which prompted them to return her to Manabe.
People from Manabe, instead of helping her, allegedly mixed medicine into her food and drink to abort the baby without her consent. Manabe even sold Andres to three different employers despite her plea to just go back to the Philippines.
An autopsy report found that Andres, who was found dead inside the bathroom of Manabe’s accommodation last March 25, died because of asphyxia by ligature
A psychologist confirmed that Andres most likely committed suicide due to post-partum depression, atop all the hardship she went through from the abortion and being passed on from an employer to another.
Given the circumstances, Tulfo also recommended filing criminal charges against Fernandez, Manabe, as well as her foreign employers.
DMW Sec. Toots Ople assured Tulfo that they will help find Fernandez and hold her accountable for her crime.
In the case of foreign employers and Manabe, Ople said they are already building a joint technical group with the Ministry of Social Resource and Social Development in Saudi to ensure that appropriate actions will be taken against them.
During the hearing, Tulfo also asked Babiera to explain the continued operation of Gulf Synergy under a different name (Time Express Manpower) despite the suspension of its license, but the latter claimed he was unaware of it.
To prove his claim, Tulfo said one of his staff members tried messaging the Facebook Page of Gulf Synergy and individual people connected to it, and his staff got a reply that the recruitment of OFWs is still ongoing, but this time under Time Express Manpower.
Due to this, Tulfo ordered DMW Usec. Bernard Olalia to closely monitor recidivists like Time Express Manpower who are putting up a new agency after a different name amid their suspension, to which the latter agreed to comply to.
Tulfo, who has been fighting for OFWs’ rights for more than two decades, said DMW should strengthen its monitoring system of OFWs in different countries by ensuring regular visits to their workplaces, as well as psychological exams to check their state of mind and find out if they are overworked, homesicked or experiencing other symptoms that may lead to depression.