DFA probing death of Filipino in Lebanon POLO shelter

Sofia Tomacruz

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DFA probing death of Filipino in Lebanon POLO shelter
The Department of Foreign Affairs says it is also considering 'underlying factors' as the domestic worker entered the shelter a day before her supposed suicide

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday, May 25, said it was investigating the death of a Filipino worker who reportedly committed suicide at a Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) shelter on Sunday, May 24.  

“The inquiry is ongoing and the DFA will abide by the next-of-kin’s wishes on details that may be shared,” DFA Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Eduardo Meñez said on Monday, May 25.  

The DFA also gave assurances it prioritized the safety of other female wards in the shelter and would provide them counseling.  

What happened? A Filipina household service worker who was taken in by the Philippine embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, as a ward at the POLO shelter “reportedly jumped from a room she was sharing with two other OFWs [overseas Filipino workers]” on the morning of May 23. 

The incident took place during breakfast time, the DFA said, and occurred less than a day after she entered the shelter on Saturday, May 22.

Considering this, the DFA said it was also considering “underlying causes” as it investigated the incident.  

The death also happened after Lebanon’s National Human Rights Commission visited the shelter and flagged subpar conditions at the facility. The group said occupancy exceeded the shelter’s capacity while psychological support and minimum daily exercise requirements needed to be given to all women and staff.  

The DFA said it was in contact with the victim’s eldest sister in the Philippines and her cousin in Lebanon. The agency assured the Filipino’s relatives it would assist in bringing her remains back to the Philippines when possible.  

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, international commercial flights to and from Beirut remain suspended as lockdown measures remain in place. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.