Special Report: OFW died mysteriously in Saudi remains in freezer

MANILA, Dec. 28, 2009—It has been six months since overseas Filipino worker, Sylviana Hugilon Basera died due to an unknown cause. Her body remains in a freezer in a morgue in Saudi Arabia, her case still unclosed.

Her family back here in the Philippines is almost tired of waiting, asking when they can have their sister’s cadaver so that they can give her a decent burial. Her sister Felly sought every help that she could get so that the body of her beloved sister be repatriated. But her efforts are to no avail.

Did she commit suicide?

Felly, Sylviana’s sister in a statement said, her sister used to work for Mohd Al Shabib Polyclinic in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

It was on 28 June 2009 when they have learned the sudden death of Sylviana. They were astonished about the news; Felly said, Sylviana has still managed to call them, in Zamboanga del Sur, a month before her death.

“She told us her ordeal,” Felly stated. “She said her employer is very strict and often mistreats her.”According to reports, she committed suicide inside her employer’s bathroom. Sylviana is a stay-in assistant to the said clinic, Migrante-ME reports.

“Felly, through the help of a friend reached us. She told us that she needs help for her sister, Sylviana. After receiving her call, I phoned our official-in-charge for the immediate repatriation of Sylviana’s remains. However, the person in-charge for the shipment of remains, in the Assistance to the Nationals Section of our embassy there in Saudi, told us that the cadaver cannot be repatriated soon. They are still waiting for Sylviana’s death certificate,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator said in an email.

Monterona reported that the RP post in Dammam seems to be convinced about the suicide story, a tale that even Migrante could not believe.

“I told them, ‘How could you [tell] me that this is a case of suicide where in fact until now, after six months from date of reported death, there is no local police report, no death certificate has been issued or has been obtained by the RP post?’ How you can make me believe that Sylviana truly committed suicide?” Monterona told this reporter.

However, Monterona admitted that based on their experience, it will really take some time for the local (Saudi) authorities to issue a report and a death certificate, which are requisites for the repatriation, especially if the cause of death has not been properly established.

“But with our official’s tone, it seems that they already have their conclusion: Sylviana committed suicide and that is a fact,” he said.

Investigate more, RP post in Saudi told

Nevertheless, Monterona still urges the RP post in Saudi Arabia to conduct its own investigation so that the circumstances leading to Sylviana’s death will be objectively established, and from there on file appropriate charges against the culprit.

“By doing that, we hope that justice will be served to the victim, her family and relatives,” Monterona said. (CBCPNews.com)