OWWA chief: OFW’s death in Kabul justifies ban
Sunday, January 20, 2008
The death of overseas Filipino worker Zennia Aguilan in Kabul, Afghanistan, has given the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) reason to insist that the total deployment ban to four strife-torn countries is justified.
Thirty-one year old Zennia Aguilan, a spa supervisor at the bombed luxurious Kabul Serena Hotel, died of serious injuries she sustained from the bombing. She was one of eight people killed during the attack reportedly done by the Taliban insurgent group who commandeered the hotel and later blew off a bomb.
In a report posted at the news website of GMA 7 television network, OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque said her death proves that there no safe place in Afghanistan and other strife-torn countries where the Philippine government has prohibited the deployment of workers.
Aguilan, a graduate of a course on physical therapy in San Carlos City, Pangasinan, arrived in Afghanistan in July and started working at the Spa Resources International owned by a European. The spa is at the Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
“Napag-alam natin na sa Dubai siya galing, and from Dubai inilipat siya sa Afghanistan. Kapag ganyan na cross-country ang deployment sa mga bansa na may ban tayo, wala tayong magagawa na maawat sila [We discovered that she came from Dubai, and from Dubai, she was transferred to Afghanistan. If the deployment was cross-country, to another where we have a ban, we can’t stop them,]” Roque said.
Aguilan first worked in Taiwan in 2004, moved to Dubai in 2006 and tried her luck in Afghanistan in July 2007.
On December 17, 2007, the Philippine government banned the deployment of Filipinos to Afghanistan. The ban on deploying workers to Iraq has been in effect since 2004 when the war erupted, and on Lebanon since July 2007.
The ban on Nigeria was imposed in January 2007 following the abduction of 24 Filipino sailors by militants.
Host countries of OFWs have no obligation to inform the Philippine government of a worker’s movement from one country to another, including in countries where deployment is prohibited, according to Roque.
Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo on Monday asked Filipino workers in Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon to look for jobs elsewhere if they still want to go abroad.
“Our aim is to protect citizens from harm’s way,” said Romulo in a press conference in Makati to launch a partnership with Ayala Foundation for the country’s hosting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in October.
“There are other places they could go to. I hope they are only thinking that we are looking after their welfare,” Romulo asserted.
Meanwhile, Malacañang has assured that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will provide necessary assistance to the family of a Filipina overseas worker killed in a five-star hotel terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said in a press briefing that President Gloria Arroyo has instructed the DFA and the DOLE to coordinate with the Kabul authorities to ship back home the remains of the victim as soon as possible.
Mrs. Arroyo also directed the two agencies to ensure the safety and welfare of all Filipino workers in Kabul.
As its initial response, the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, sent a consular team to Kabul to assist in the repatriation of the Filipina’s remains. [Manila Times]