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Pinoy Abroad

Children of OFW who died in Abu Dhabi show her last messages, seek justice


The children of Mary Jean Alberto, who died in Abu Dhabi on October 2, do not believe she took her own life and demand justice at the Migrante Home Office in Quezon City on October 15, 2019. Photo: Joviland Rita
Mary Jean Alberto's family demand justice for the overseas Filipino worker at the Migrante Home Office in Quezon City on October 15, 2019. Alberto died in Abu Dhabi on October 2. Photo: Joviland Rita

“Mas gusto ko pang makulong kesa ganito.” This was the last message that Mary Jean Alberto sent to her family before plunging to her death in Abu Dhabi on October 2.

Jean allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the 13th floor of the building where she worked for a Moroccan employer. But her family is not convinced that she took her own life.

A day before she died, Jean pleaded with her sister Marie, who was also working in Abu Dhabi, that she wanted to be rescued from her employer.

“Te puntahan niyo na ko ni Jeng-Jeng dito. Muntik na akong sakalin ni madam. Pinagbibintangan niya na ako kay Hamood,” Jean wrote on the morning of October 1. “Pa-pulis niyo na ako!”

That was the last message she sent. Her family could no longer contact her afterwards.



On October 2, Jean’s daughter Rohjean, also an OFW in Abu Dhabi, called her mother’s employer incessantly until she picked up.

“Ang unang sabi ni Ate, ‘Asan si Mama?’ Kasi hindi nga namin ma-contact. Ang sabi ng madam niya, ‘Sorry Rohjean, wala na Mama mo, nag-suicide,’” Jean’s second child Ronel recounted at the Migrante Office in Quezon City, where he and his younger brother Rojan showed reporters their mother's last text messages on Tuesday.

They said they were baffled by Jean's employer's recollection of the incident.

“Ang sabi ng madam niya, ‘Natutulog ako tapos may narinig na lang akong kalabog. Tapos pagkagising ko nung tumayo ako may mga pulis na sa baba.’ Parang imposible naman na nasa 13th floor sila maririnig niya yung kalabog sa baba?” Ronel said.

“Ang nagsabi lang na suicide yung madam niya. Pinapalabas na suicide,” added Rojan.

Rohjean received her mother’s death certificate only on Monday. It did not indicate the cause of death.

“Pang-twelve days na ngayon, wala pa rin 'yung autopsy. Sana hindi madaya,” Ronel said.

“Ang hinihingi lang namin ay hustiya,” he added.

No food, no sleep 

The siblings revealed that they had received messages from their mother talking about the abuse and maltreatment she received at the hands of her employers.

Jean had been hired as a family driver, but when she got there on July 7, she was put to work as a housemaid and nanny. Her employer told her that it would take a while for her to get a driver’s license.

Her working visa arrived in September—from which she learned that she had been hired as a domestic helper and not a driver.

Jean told her family that she had to work from 5 a.m. until 3 a.m. the next day. She could not eat until she finished her work. At one point, she was hospitalized due to her heavy workload. She also did not get her salary, which she needed to pay for her hospitalization.

Her phone was constantly confiscated by the Moroccan employer. Rojan would stay up late to be able to talk to his mother.

“Nag-send siya sa akin ng picture after ng one month. Sumobra na 'yung pagkapayat niya. Tapos nag-send siya ng mga pictures na may mga pasa nga siya,” Ronel told GMA News Online.

“Nitong huli, lumala na,” he added.


Jean also shared her suffering with her fellow OFWs.

She sent them photos of bruises on her arms. While she did not detail how she got the injuries, Jean said that her employer was constantly irritated at her and would chastise her for things like “ang daming sulat sa dingding ng ballpen.”




This is why Jean’s children are convinced that she did not take her own life—that foul play was involved in her death.

“Pinapahirapan siya. Ang iaano sa amin sa huli, isang araw [matapos niya mag-message], suicide. Sino ba namang maniniwala na ganitong nagmamakaawa siya na kuhanin doon?” said Ronel.

Jean wanted to come home, and considered using the money she had planned to send to the Philippines to buy a ticket home instead.



'Mayayakap mo rin ako'

Rojan—18 years old and Jean's youngest—described his mother as a fighter, a woman who smiled through life’s challenges.

“Imposible talaga na ganun 'yung mangyari kasi si mama po tipong kahit makikita mong susuko na pero lalaban pa rin,” he said.

“Lagi niya sinasabi, ‘Anak, 21 months na lang uuwi na ko. Matatapos na October.’ 

“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Miss na miss na kita, gusto na kitang mayakap.’” 

In reply, his mother told him, “Antayin mo lang, mayayakap mo rin ako.”



Jean's video call with her son Rojan
Jean's video call with her son Rojan


Jean’s children also said that when they first went to ask help from the government, they were not even asked what happened to their mother.

“Hindi nila inaano 'yung hustisya para sa amin. Inaano lang nila 'yung maiuwi si Mama agad dito. Masakit sa amin 'yon na syempre. Sino pa bang lalapitan? Sila na lang din dahil nga ibang bansa 'yon,” said Ronel.

Ronel said that he reported Jean's death to the Department of Foreign Affairs. “Pinatay siya,” the 21-year old told the DFA personnel.

Jean’s family is asking for help not just to bring her remains home as soon as possible, but also to uncover the truth and find justice.

Samahan ng mga DH sa Gitnang Silangan and Migrante International have extended their support to Jean’s family.

“Kailangan panindigan ng gobyerno natin' yung side ng story ni Mary Jean. Hindi basta basta i-conclude na, ‘Ay suicide yan, ipauwi na lang natin,’” Migrante International chair Joanna Concepcion told GMA News Online.

"Dapat igiit ng gobyerno na sila mismo ang makipag-usap doon sa gobyerno kung saan nangyari yung pagsasamantala. Depensahan nila 'yung karapatan ng manggagawa natin,” she added.

“Hindi kami papayag na marami pang maulila na anak ng inaaping mga migranteng manggagawa sa labas ng bansa. Nananawagan kami sa ating gobyerno na magkaroon ng imparsyal na imbestigasyon sa pagkamatay ni Mary Jean.”

GMA News is trying to reach the Department of Foreign Affairs for comment. — BM, GMA News