ucanews.com reporter, ManilaUpdated: October 14, 2016 07:16 AM GMT
Migrant workers stage a protest outside the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration office on Oct. 12 to call for the closure of recruitment agencies they say are accountable for the deaths of workers abroad. (Photo courtesy of Migrante)
A Catholic bishop has called on the Philippine government to look into the possible culpability of a recruitment agency that is responsible of hiring a Filipino woman who was later reported killed in Saudi Arabia.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, head of the commission on migrants of the bishops' conference, said the government should look into how the victim was able to work abroad.
The prelate made the call for a "full investigation" following suspicions raised by migrant rights groups that Irma Edloy Jotojot, 35, might be a victim of illegal recruitment and contract violation by the agency.
Jotojot was reported raped and killed by her employer after she arrived in Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic helper on July 30 this year.
After 10 days upon her arrival, Jotojot was brought to a hospital where she was reported "with bruises and bleeding profusely." She was pronounced dead a week later.
Her remains were scheduled to be interred in the Philippines.
"The government should hold the agency that sent her abroad criminally accountable," said Bishop Santos.
Migrante International, an organization of Filipino migrant workers, said the agency Rejoice Employment International Corporation refused to provide help to the victim's family.
Mic Caturia, secretary general of Migrante, said Jotojot was not the only migrant worker who was refused help by the victim's recruitment agency.
Caturia claimed that the agency has "victimized at least 20 migrant workers" since July 2015 because of its "utter disregard for the security and welfare of their workers."
In July 2015, another migrant worker, Gina Brozula Bodoso, also suffered the same fate after trying to escape from an abusive employer.
Bodoso's family filed complaint against the Rejoice Employment International Corporation but the case is still to be decided by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Caturia said the government should also be held accountable for the deaths of migrant workers "for not revoking the license of notorious recruitment agencies."
Bishop Santos lamented that migrant workers pay the high price of the Philippine government’s failure to provide jobs for its people.
"Jotojot's noble intention to provide for the needs of her family and loved ones and uplift their life has turned to tragedy," said the bishop.
The prelate also urged Philippine embassy officials in countries where Filipinos are deployed "to redouble their efforts in protecting and caring" for migrant workers.
"Safeguard their human and labor rights, and make sure that when Filipinos go to work in foreign lands they do not go to their deaths," said Bishop Santos.
He said the government should already address migration and joblessness through socio-economic reforms.
In 2015, an average of 6,092 Filipinos per day left the Philippines to work overseas, according to data provided by Migrante.