OFW Advocate Susan “Toots” Ople today expressed concern over possible human rights abuses taking place right at the country’s international airport terminals because of the alleged syndicated planting of bullets on unsuspecting passengers.
Ople, who heads the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said that 56-year old overseas Filipino worker Gloria Ortinez was interrogated by unidentified airport personnel without the presence of a lawyer on October 25 when the tanim-bala incident happened.
In a meeting arranged last Nov. 9 by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center between Ortinez and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Atty. Gwen Pimentel-Gana, the OFW said she was not informed about her rights prior to questioning by airport personnel.
“According to Nanay Gloria, she was brought to a room and there were about seven people there, including herself. The interrogators wore white barong shirts but without any identifying marks or nameplates. They were telling her to admit to owning the bullet but she refused. She was also being made to sign a document with a warning that if she did not cooperate, they would put her in handcuffs.” Ople, who was present in the meeting, said.
The OFW advocate said that Atty. Gana had committed to bring the information shared by the beleaguered OFW to the attention of other CHR commissioners for appropriate action. While the CHR is not involved in law enforcement, Commissioner Pimentel-Gana stressed that it can look into the human rights aspect of the case.
“It is appalling that these alleged human rights violations are going on inside our international airport,” Ople said.
Ople also announced that the beleaguered OFW is scheduled to leave for Hong Kong for the first time since her tanim-bala ordeal last Oct. 25 to appeal directly to her foreign employer.
“Nanay Gloria is very scared to set foot in our airport. But she has no choice because if she stays here longer, the employer who is a single mom might also change her mind about taking her back,” she said.
Ople noted that any further delays on the legal aspects of Nanay Gloria’s case could lead to a permanent loss of livelihood for her and her family. “We are appealing to the DOJ to please drop the case against Nanay Gloria because she is innocent of the crime, and her only source of livelihood is now at risk.” END
Ferdie J. Maglalang