The body of a Filipino overseas worker, who was murdered in her employer’s home in Saudi Arabia on Sept. 2, 2010, has caused controversy on its arrival in the Philippines. Relatives of the deceased have claimed that the body was mutilated in Dammam’s Hospital morgue, where it was stored pending repatriation. The body was missing its tongue and one eye.
Romilyn-Eroy Ibanez, 22, arrived in the Kingdom on May 31, 2010. She left her home in Kidapawan, North Cotabato in the Philippines, having secured what she thought was nursing work. However on her arrival she was assigned work as a housemaid. Just three months into her Saudi sojourn she was found bleeding to death in her employer’s kitchen. Arab News
reported she was taken to the King Fahd Hospital in Alkhobar by the Red Crescent, where she died.
sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila stated that the initial investigation showed
“Ibanez had knife wounds in her neck, abdomen and wrist as well as acid burns in her mouth area, arms and legs. Reportedly, an almost empty container of sulphuric acid was taken from the scene.”
The investigation failed to lead to an arrest and in Dec. 2010 a Filipino migrants group proposed a visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss the issue of
“Abused and maltreated, run away and undocumented, rampant labor malpractices, and the numerous cases of mysterious deaths and sexual abuses” Migrant Rights Organization
reported. On the agenda was the unsolved death of Ibanez as
“No formal case has been filed against the culprit.”
Relatives of Ibanez requested a full investigation into her death following an initial ruling of suicide. Global Nation
reported that Saudi authorities concluded Ibanez had killed herself by stabbing herself and drinking acid. The hospital gave the cause of death as ingesting acid and stab wounds, but the family suspected foul play. An autopsy was carried out and the coroner who conducted the autopsy confirmed the body was intact at the time, with no missing parts.
With no progress made on the investigation the family asked for the body to be repatriated. Relatives were furious when they received the mutilated body of Ibanez. Demanding an explanation the coroner said that possibly the missing tongue and eye were due to decomposition of the body, according to the Arab News
.The Philippine Embassy has hired a Saudi law firm to look into the case.
Currently Saudi has imposed a ban on domestic workers from the Philippines working in the Kingdom.