IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE
The cases of abused Filipino domestic helpers abroad are actually nothing new. Singapore, specifically, has always had such cases.
• In 2008, a 31-year-old pregnant woman faced a Singaporean court for hurting her Filipina maid with a spoon. Read more
• In 2009, a 38-year-old Singaporean employer was charged for physically abusing her Filipina maid by kicking her and banging her head against a wall. Read more
• Singapore is also the country where OFW Flor Contemplacion was hanged in 1995 after she was found guilty by the courts of killing fellow Filipino maid Delia Maga and Maga’s four-year-old Singaporean ward.
A Filipino domestic helper found to have been maltreated by her employer in Singapore has assured Philippine officials that she will return to the city state to pursue a case against her former boss.
“Magpapagaling muna ako tapos babalik ako sa Singapore para sa kaso (I will let my body recover first then I will return to Singapore to file a case against my employer)," Lea Tarronas told GMANews.TV in a phone interview from the central Philippines on Thursday.
The 34-year-old is now confined at the Western Visayas Medical Center, undergoing treatment for illnesses and injuries as a result of her employer’s maltreatment.
Like hundreds of thousands of other overseas Filipino domestic helpers, she left her family in the Philippines to work as maid for a family in Singapore.
But as reported by her husband, Daniel, to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila, his wife’s employer started maltreating her four months after she arrived in Singapore in March last year.
Daniel said his wife’s employer often beat her up, slapped her or step on her, and even burned her in the face and back using an iron.
Tarronas reportedly endured the maltreatment for over a year and it was only after her husband sought help from Iloilo Representative Janette Garin that her condition was confirmed.
“My wife used to be fat. When she returned to the country, she was emaciated," Daniel told a local radio station.
Doctors found her to have acute tuberculosis (cavitary TB) and advanced pneumonia and severe depression.
A report by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said when an embassy team and Singaporean police visited Tarronas at her work place on July 7, they were able to get her to talk about the maltreatment she had been getting.
The embassy reported to the DFA in Manila that Tarronas showed “visible signs" of possible abuse and was “emaciated."
Taronas eventually returned to the country on July 8.
Reports from Iloilo earlier quoted officials saying she appeared to have lost her will to fight as a possible result of her trauma tic experience.
Said a DFA report, Tarronas even refused to file a complaint or seek medical treatment despite proddings from a Singaporean police officer who was sent to check on her condition.
But after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo personally assured her family of justice for her ordeal, Tarronas agreed to pursue the case once she gets well.
In the interview with GMANews.TV, Tarronas said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is helping her out with her medical bills while Garin and the embassy will help her in filing a case of grave physical injuries against the Singaporean.
“The DFA will assist her in every way it can, together with OWWA, to ensure that she obtains justice and tormentors punished to the full extent of the laws of Singapore," said Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Minda Cruz in an earlier statement.
Although Tarronas was forced to sign two certifications by her Singaporean employers, the OWWA said it will not stop it and embassy lawyers from pursuing criminal cases against the Singaporean employer, using as “strong evidence" the scars and medical findings on Tarronas upon her repatriation.
The embassy has also recommended that Tarronas be provided with all necessary assistance to ensure her speedy recovery, including counseling services to address the trauma she may have experienced.
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas estimates that there were a total of 156,466 Filipinos in Singapore as of December 2007, mostly contract workers. - GMANews.TV