Town hall meeting on Lorna Sun, migrants workers’ rights on April 6

Michelle Saulon of Migrante New York/New Jersey Organizing Committee

Michelle Saulon of Migrante New York/New Jersey Organizing Committee

A town hall meeting will be held on Sunday, April 6, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church in Elmhurst to discuss the case of Lorna Sun, a domestic worker who died of cardiac arrest and who, according to Philippine Forum (PF), did not receive adequate assistance from the Philippine government.

“This (forum) aims to educate the community on cases such as Manang Lorna’s and for community members to know their rights when they encounter these kinds of situations,” the organization said in a press statement.

A picket and prayer vigil were held March 31 in front of the Philippine Consulate building on Fifth Avenue where activists made the following demands: (1) provide full financial assistance for Lorna Sun and family, (2) change system and policies to provide genuine and more efficient assistance and service to all migrant workers, and (3) create emergency funds for distressed migrant workers.

The day after the picket, according to Philippine Forum, Lorna’s friend Angela Lopez was called by a representative from the consulate to pick up the check which will help cover the expenses for the funeral services.

“This is a partial victory for the community,” said Lorena Sanchez-McRae of Philippine Forum. “If there had been no action and pressure from community members and the organizations, it could have taken the Philippine government longer to process this, maybe months.”

The amount was a disappointment, according to Lorna’s friends and activists.

“The check was only for the funeral services. We demand full financial assistance for Manang Lorna and her family, from the time she passed away until her ashes are brought home to the family in Bacolod. That also includes, in respect to the family, bringing one of the sons of Manang Lorna to New York to pick up the urn then go back home so they can hold proper ceremonies for her with the family. It’s just sad and enraging that they won’t be able to see Manang Lorna anymore in whole. What’s even more sad is that they have not seen her for 16 years and that the last time they will be seeing her, she’s already in ashes,” Lopez said.

The PF spoke to Lorna’s son, Laurence John, who said the family had no money to bring his mother’s remains back home. He said, “The DFA told us it’s expensive to bring the body home so we should just cremate her because that costs less.”

Consul Felipe Carino said the DFA has opened communications with Lorna’s husband who agreed to the cremation and had given his written consent.

“The family was not given any choice. Manang Lorna only had $20.26 in her credit card and she was the breadwinner of the family. The least that the Philippine government can do is to shoulder everything that will bring back the remains of a hard-working migrant worker to the family who’s been waiting for her,” Lopez added.

Migrant groups reiterated the need to implement a more efficient government system in providing genuine assistance and services to all overseas Filipino workers. There is a law – the Republic Act No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 – providing for the rights of migrant workers and the role of the Philippine government in protecting these rights.

“The consulate must have an active role in disseminating information to make the community aware of the existing laws protecting the rights of migrant workers, regardless of status,” said Michelle Saulon of Migrante NY/NJ Organizing Committee. “We must always be on guard and make sure that the system will serve all migrant workers.”

Philippine Forum-led prayer vigil for Lorna Sun in front of the Philippine Consulate building

Philippine Forum-led prayer vigil for Lorna Sun in front of the Philippine Consulate building

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: