An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Saudi Arabia who was allegedly raped by her employer has died, an official said.
Filipina Irma Avila Edloy, 35, passed away Friday, Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said over radio dzMM.
Forensic investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of Edloy’s death.
Edloy was rushed to King Salman Hospital in Riyadh earlier in the week due to severe injuries from suspected sexual assault. She lapsed into a coma soon after arriving at the hospital.
Bello said Edloy had implicated her employer in the assault. Prior to becoming unconscious, while she did not say outright that her employer sexually assaulted her, she pointed to her employer when asked by a nurse who had maltreated her.
According to Iric Arribas, charge d’affaires of the Philippine embassy in Saudi Arabia, Saudi authorities are verifying whether the Filipina was indeed raped. They are also investigating if Edloy could have been ill prior to arriving in the Middle East.
“Iyong rape angle, under investigation [ng mga pulis sa Saudi Arabia]. Allegation pa lang iyan (The rape angle is under investigation by Saudi Arabian police. That is still an allegation),” Arribas clarified.
“Hindi na siya nagre-respond sa mga tanong [kaya hindi niya ito sinabi]. Tinitingnan pa rin ang anggulo na iyon, at kung ano ang nangyari kay Irma,” he said.
Edloy arrived in Saudi Arabia in the last week of July. Her employment agency said that she was first brought to Jeddah by her employer, and was hospitalized there so she was brought back to Riyadh on August 10 to speak with Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) officials, who were concerned for her welfare.
She did not respond to queries, so she was brought to the hospital in Riyadh to be examined. “Ang gesture lang niya, may sakit siya sa ulo, may headache,” Arribas said.
On August 13, the POLO office got a call from the King Salman Hospital that Edloy was confined there, and officials visited her on August 14. She was still conscious, but did not respond verbally to questions.
Edloy was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit on August 17. She suffered cardiac arrest several times, but doctors were able to revive her, until she died on August 18, Arribas said.
According to the hospital report read by Arribas on air, Edloy was diagnosed to have “adult respiratory distress syndrome, bilateral hydronephrosis, active hydrocephalus, acute renal failure, and hematuria.”
This meant that her lungs were inflamed, her kidney was not working properly, she had fluid in her brain, and blood was present in her urine.
Philippine authorities had first raised suspicions that the OFW was a victim of sexual assault after initial examinations allegedly showed lacerations in her private parts, and bruises on her body.
Nurses also said that Edloy’s underwear was full of blood when she was first treated at the hospital.
Philippine officials in Saudi are working to have her remains brought back to the country. While it is usual for an OFW’s employers and employment agency to obtain a death certificate and other papers in order for the Saudi Arabian government to issue an exit permit for remains, the circumstances surrounding Edloy’s death have made it necessary for the embassy to secure these instead.
“Dahil sa anggulo na maaaring rape case [ang kaso ng pagkamatay ni Edloy], kailangan nang dito sa POLO or embassy side ang gumawa,” Arribas said.
Bello said that they are asking for Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Labor for a thorough investigation into the circumstances behind Edloy’s injuries and subsequent death.
Bello added that they will step up efforts to watch after OFWs in the Middle East.
“Kailangan talaga ng 24-hour monitoring ng mga katayuan ng ating kababayan dito sa bansa,” Bello said.