FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Domestic Workers Group Demands Justice for Deceased Connecticut Filipina;
Calls on Phil. Gov’t to Cover Repatriation Costs
New York, New York–Thousands of miles away from her family in Davao del Norte, Philippines, Putli Asjali, a 55 year-old widower, was working in the United States as a live-in housekeeper. Similar to the 3,000 Filipinos that leave the Philippines every day in search for work abroad, Ms. Asjali sacrificed her life to come to the U.S. to provide for her family of four children back in the Philippines. However, on August 14, 2008, Ms. Asjali passed away in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Connecticut due to a stomach aneurysm. Now, her body waits in the U.S. to be sent back.
Her four children back in the Philippines wish to see their mother again so they can finally lay her body to rest and give her a proper burial. The Philippine Consulate in NYC instead have suggested that her remains be cremated as a more practical and economical option. Her family, however, wants to give their mother a full-body burial back in the Philippines.
Ms. Asjali’s situation is similar to Felisa “Fely” Garcia, another overseas Filipino domestic worker who died in 2007 in New York City. For Garcia’s case, the Philippine Consulate was not willing at first to fund repatriation expenses for her to go back to the Philippines. It was only due to the community pressure organized by a Filipino Domestic Workers Support Network under Philippine Forum, Queens-based community organization, KABALIKAT (in Tagalog for shoulder-to-shoulder), that the consular office in New York conceded reluctantly to do the right thing for Garcia. It seems the Philippine consulate is at it again.
“It’s disappointing and saddening to see the decision of the Philippine Consulate,” stated Lorena Sanchez, a member of KABALIKAT. “There is no respect and dignity upheld for Filipinos that have left their home to work. It reminds me of Ate Fely because its the same situation. Why are we here again, where we must fight to send our kababayan back? There should be some policy created to assist OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) who have passed away abroad to make sure that there are full repatriation expenses.”
To make sure Ms. Asjali is given a proper burial, KABALIKAT demands the Philippine Consulate shoulder the full repatriation expenses of Ms. Asjali. The Philippine Consulate’s concern with the economical solution of cremation is not about practicality it is about money. Considering this KABALIKAT demands that her body remain complete in consideration to the wishes of her children. It is distressing that the Philippine Consulate would not pay for full repatriation expenses, while in July 2008 millions of dollars that was spent on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her entourage of 100 to send them to the U.S. and back to the Philippines. KABALIKAT also demands a full investigation of Ms. Ajali’s death.
In the NY Filipino community: For donations to help with the funeral arrangements, please send to Bayanihan Center, 40-21 69th Street, Woodside, Queens, 11377. For more information about the wake and how to get involved with KABALIKAT, please call (718) 565-8862.
KABALIKAT was formed in March 2007 as a support network for domestic workers. ###