An Overseas Filipino Worker committed suicide Friday morning in a rest room located inside the workers’ camp of a leading local construction company. The lifeless body of Joey Dizon was discovered by a cleaner after a foul smell began emanating from one of the rooms in the accommodation. The door was broken open to reveal the decaying body of Dizon hanging from the ceiling. The authorities were notified and the body moved to the mortuary. The young worker was last seen alive by his roommates on Thursday evening when he sold a pair of his shoes to another co-worker and handed over his wallet to his cousin.
Sources from inside the camp say that Dizon was quiet, easy going person, but in recent days he had told co-workers that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer and needed an urgent operation. But Dizon did not have the money; he had not received his salary for three months or the promised airline ticket to return home.
“This is the third time such an incident occurred inside the workers’ camp and nothing has changed,” said a worker ruefully. According to sources who spoke with The Times Kuwait, there are more than 800 Filipino workers hired by this specific company and they are on contract with several local companies. “Conditions of workers vary depending on the contracts they are involved with, some receive their salaries on time but majority of workers’ salary schedules are erratic and in some cases they have not been paid from anywhere between two to six months,” stated the source.
The Times Kuwait was also informed that workers in this company have always been the victims of repeated promises of salary payments that never materialize. “We have complained to the Philippine Embassy, but representatives from the company’s human resources department have been very uncooperative and in some instances unresponsive,” added the source.
According to the records of the Philippine Labor Office, since 2014, the company has been asked to comply with the demands of its workers but repeatedly failed to respond. “On the recommendations of former Philippine Labor Attaché Atty. Cesar Chavez, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office issued a letter of order putting the company on a blacklist and disqualified it from hiring anymore Filipinos,” explained Philippine Assistant Labor Attaché Lilly Guerrero.
She added that the embassy recently held a meeting with the human resources department of the company and they were requested to meet representatives from each group separately, since bringing together more than eight hundred Filipino workers was impossible. Even after such agreement was made, the company failed to comply.
Meanwhile, the latest death in its workers’ camp has led the company to warn all the employees living there not to communicate with any media and threatened that anyone who violates will face serious repercussions. Employees have also been warned not to take any videos involving the case. In fact, it was The Times Kuwait journalist who reported the death of Dizon to the Philippine Labor Office on Sunday; the embassy officials had no knowledge of the case even though a couple of days had passed and the company had not bothered to inform the embassy of the incident.
“Some of us have received our salaries but many have not, it’s a struggle every day, although food and accommodations are provided but how do we explain to our families and children why we are unable to provide financial support to them back in the Philippines? We have sold even our personal belongings to be able to send money to our families back home, until when are we able to do this,” asked a worker.
“We have forwarded Dizon’s case to our Assistant to Nationals Unit to pursue investigations and hold accountable whoever was responsible for causing this unfortunate incident,” said Guerrero. She added that Filipinos should not resort to such dire actions and should instead immediately come to the labor office for help.