When Julia Campbell was killed in Ifugao, the Philippine government moved heaven and earth to be of significance.
Gloria Arroyo, with her trademark faux sympathy, said something like: “We will give 110% to help her and her family. We will do everything we can.” Hundreds of Cordillera police officers were sent to Ifugao to look for Julia. Some organization wanted to build her a statue. And Congress officially honored her as a hero.
Well and good.
When Jocelyn Dulnuan, our kailiyan from Ifugao, was killed in Toronto, do you know how the Philippine consulate in Toronto responded to requests for help?
According to our reliable source, consulate officials said something like: “Duh, she is not registered with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), so we can’t help you.”
Okay, we added “duh” for effect. But, other than that, those are the words spoken by our consular officials. Sadly, even though we consider ourselves advocates for non-violence, words like that tend to tempt us to throw away our advocacy. So maybe we should kidnap those officials and drop them from Toronto’s CN Tower, reputedly the tallest free-standing structure in the whole world.
Or maybe we should drag them to the mental institution at Queen’s Street where, incidentally, BIBAK/Cordillera folks used to hold their parties and softball games. (We’re not sure if they continue to hold their events in said venue.)
Anyway, as stated above, OWWA’s reason for not helping Jocelyn is the fact that she did not register with said agency. Quotable quotes from the Philippine consulate in Toronto according to our source:
“If the person came direct from the Philippines, then they would have registered and paid their dues at the airport”.
“But because this girl came from Hongkong, then she should have registered when she got here”.
Our source pointed out that Jocelyn paid her dues, and was thus registered with OWWA, when she left the Philippines to go to Hongkong. Sadly, such fact apparently does not count.
So let’s get this clear: Jocelyn paid her OWWA dues when she left Manila for Hongkong. But OWWA insists that she is not registered with them because she didn’t pay anything when she moved from Hongkong to Canada.
Wow, technicality, what a way to wash your hands off. So how did our source react to our consular official’s insistence on technicality. Here’s what she told us:
So I told them that they need to put it in their responsibility list to ensure that the OFWs get educated on the importance of “registering” and make it so.
Exactly. We agree with her 110%. This strict interpretation of the registration requirement when the government isn’t telling OFWs about it is really silly. Too often, it is used by our government officials to turn away from their responsibility to protect Filipino citizens. Eh klarong-klaro na OFW ang tao, ano pa ang hahanapin nila?
Actually, these consular officials are like the bus conductors or waiters who insist that old people present a certification proving that they are senior citizens before they are given the discounted rates for senior citizens. An old friend got so exasperated with this silliness so she shouted: “Eh obvious na matanda ang tao, hahanapan mo pa ng proof na siya ay matanda.”
We can excuse those bus conductors and waiters because they are most probably doing what their employers, who are in the business of making money, told them to do.
However, it’s hard to find an excuse for our consular official’s insistence that an OFW must first be registered with OWWA (in the manner of registration they prescribe) before they lend a helping hand. To paraphrase our friend: “Eh obvious na OFW yung tao, hahanapan mo pa ng proof na siya ay OFW.”
Because the Philippine consulate is officially not helping (hopefully it will help unofficially), our kailiyans in Toronto are banding together to help raise funds to bring Jocelyn home. From our source:
So at the moment, we are depending on the good hearts of citizens to raise over 15,000 dollars to send the body home. Since an ash is not going to do. I am asking help from all the Filipino associations and I just hope they will help.
And here’s a fund-raising event they have organized:
The Filipino Association of Vaughn, Philippine Independence Day Council and the Ifugao Association of Canada are inviting the media, other Filipino organizations, and anyone who wish to help Jocelyn Dulnuans family, to a fundraising event this Saturday. Oct. 6, 5pm at Patricia Kemp Community Center. 7894 Dufferin St.(Dufferin/Center St) Vaughn.
Please attend the event if you are in the Toronto area.
In ending, let’s go back to the tales of Julia and Jocelyn. We are glad that the Philippine government did everything it could in the Julia Campbell case. But we are quite sad to hear of the Philippine consulate’s insistence on a stupid registration requirement in response to calls for help for Jocelyn Dulnuan.
What foolishness in this worst of times.
UPDATE: DFA officials have directed the Toronto consulate to extend full support to Jocelyn. Full support should include assuming responsibility in repatriating Jocelyn’s body. Thank heavens. But we’ll see if it isn’t just for press release. Details in this update.