DIPOLOG CITY – A 32-year-old mother from Leon Postigo town, who was illegally recruited and deceived to work as a domestic helper in Lebanon, escaped from her recruiters.
Cecile Tubadan told the Philippine News Agency that the sister of her live-in partner, Myrene Salvador Abuan, who is married to a Syrian man, Hashim Ali who is living in Lebanon, enticed her to work there Lebanon for $400 monthly. “I agreed because I’m jobless, I have four children, and I cannot rely on the money sent by my partner,” Tubadan said, adding that her live-in partner is an army soldier.
Tubadan said she wanted to earn money for her family and did not mind going to Lebanon on July 19 this year on a tourist visa. “I have no contract, no work documents–nothing, but I still went to Lebanon because I trusted Myrene,” Tubadan said.
She was endorsed by Ali to SREIH Services, a housemaid agency in Lebanon, which paid the couple $800 for bringing in the unsuspecting Tubadan. She was told to work at the house of the Alis until they can find her an employer. But then everything changed, Tubadan said, when Ali told her to work as prostitute disguised as a masseuse at a spa.
Tubadan claimed that Ali beat her and barred her from going out of their apartment building when she refused. After several weeks, Tubadan recalled that she posted on Facebook an appeal for her rescue. Her post was seen by her relatives and a neighbor in Leon Postigo — William Anadeo, a school teacher in their town.
Anadeo sought the help of Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos, who immediately sent a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which promptly ordered its embassy in Lebanon to look for Tubadan.
Tubadan said she got a chance to escape on September 11 while Ali was not at home. She asked permission from Abuan to go to the prayer meeting of fellow Filipinos at an apartment on the ground floor. With the help of friends, she escaped out of the building and brought to a coffee shop where she was fetched by a relative and brought to the Philippine Embassy.
According to Tubadan, embassy officials demanded SREIH Services to return her travel documents and give her plane ticket back home or they would bring her case to the Lebanese government. The owners of SREIGH Services agreed and had Tubadan sign a document stating that she would not file a case against the agency.
On September 13, Tubadan was able to fly back to Manila. Upon arriving in Dipolog, she immediately went to thank Jalosjos personally. She also asked the latter to help three other distressed Filipinas at the apartment of Ali.
“There are a lot of Filipinas who need help. There are about a hundred at the embassy. They could not come home because they still have legal cases or they have no money,” she said, adding, in most cases, victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking in Lebanon were recruited by either friends or their own relatives. (Gualberto Laput)