OFW group urges compassion for mother of ‘Gulf Air’ baby

Written by JERRIE M. ABELLA, GMANews.TV, 09/18/2010

retrieved from GMANews.TV

A migrants’ rights group asked on Friday for compassion, and not contempt, for the self-confessed mother of the newborn infant—now given the name George Francis Dimaano—found in the trash bin of a Gulf Air jetliner that landed in Manila’s international airport last week.

In a statement, Migrante-Middle East said the Filipina worker from Qatar who claimed to be the baby boy’s mother is in a “deplorable situation” and thus needs understanding, not condemnation.

“The OFW mother who left her newborn child in the plane must not be condemned; she needs assistance being in a deplorable situation like many OFW mothers working abroad,” said Migrante regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

Monterona said the migrant organization believes that the Filipina was burdened with problems and was not ready to face the consequences of her pregnancy, forcing her to a decision to just dump her baby.

He added the woman could have been “very disturbed,” further complicated by the unexpected plight of having to give birth during the flight.

Mother may have been abused

On Sunday, the infant was found dumped in a trash bin of Gulf Air flight GF-154, which arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport before Sunday noon, after investigators noticed a trail of blood from one of the seats to the lavatory. (See: ‘Gulf Air’ baby in stable condition; 2 more abandoned infants found)

The National Bureau of Investigation earlier said the OFW, whom it brought to Manila on Wednesday from Apayao, had already admitted to being the mother of baby George Francis, named by airport personnel after the plane’s flight code. (See: OFW admits giving birth to ‘Gulf Air’ baby)

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, which now keeps the OFW in custody, meanwhile said on Friday that it is highly possible that the woman was a victim of abuse, according to report by GMA News’ “24 Oras”.

In an Associated Press report, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla confirmed that the woman told her that she had been ra-ped by her employer, for whom she worked as a domestic helper, and then forced her to return to the Philippines.

Mercado-Revilla added the woman told her that she abandoned the family for fear of what her family would say.

Mercado-Revilla and Buhay party-list Rep. Irwin Tieng likewise said the woman should be helped instead of condemned.

In a privilege speech on Thursday, Mercado-Revilla said the woman should be extended “compassion and mercy” instead of being penalized for what she did, being a modern-day hero that risks her life abroad for decent work.

In a separate statement meanwhile, Tieng said while there is no excuse for the mother to abandon her baby, the government should nevertheless consider the “harsh realities” that women OFWs face while working overseas.

Other Filipina workers in same condition

Meanwhile, Monterona disclosed that there are other Filipina workers in the Middle East who face the same dire situation and are in need of assistance.

“(There are) women OFWs, specifically domestic workers in the Middle East, (who) have been subjected to sexual abuses and maltreatment by their abusive male employers, forcing them to run away and become undocumented,” he explained.

Monterona cited the case of the 10 Filipina workers who gave birth in Saudi Arabia and are now staying at the Philippine Embassy’s Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh.

The children’s ages range from as old as seven years to as young as eight months, he disclosed.

“They are working as domestic helpers and were victims of se-xual abuses by their employers. They ran away, became pregnant, gave birth, and became illegal migrants after their work permits have expired,” Monterona added.

He said some of the 10 mothers, along with their children, have been staying for more than a year in Bahay Kalinga, but have yet to be repatriated by the Embassy.

Government records show as of December 2008, there were over a million Filipinos in Saudi Arabia. Last year, some 6,000 Filipinos were deployed as domestic helpers in the Kingdom.—JV, GMANews.TV

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