The Philippine Consulate General’s officers and staff expressed their condolences to the family of the late Filipino worker Emerita “Emie” Relata Romero and urged local and federal authorities to do everything they can to obtain justice for her.
“The Consulate General joins all the relatives and friends of Emie, the Filipino community and everyone in the Northern Marianas, in offering prayers for the eternal repose of her soul and in pleading to the Lord Almighty that her family and loved ones be blessed with strength in this difficult and painful period,” said a Consulate statement issued yesterday.
Romero, a 37-year-old bartender at Godfather’s Bar in Garapan, disappeared early Sunday morning and reportedly made a 911 call from her cell phone at about 3am just before it was cut off. A body found at the derelict La Fiesta Mall yesterday is believed to be her remains.
Romero was reportedly last seen boarding a green or blue tinted sedan in the parking lot of Call-A-Ride Saipan in front of Musung Building on Chichirica Avenue corner Kadena Di Amor St. in Garapan.
The Consulate said that Romero’s death “is a cause for concern and reflection in the hearts and minds of peace loving Filipinos, local residents, and people of any race or creed.”
“The Consulate General trusts that the authorities of the United States and the [CNMI] shall get to the bottom of the incident and bring the perpetrators of this brazen and inhuman act to justice,” the Consulate said.
In a separate interview, welfare officer Julie Fabian extended her condolences and said that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration is willing to offer their assistance to the Romero family.
Fabian confirmed that Romero signed up for an OWWA membership on March 20, 2011, entitling her family to receive some benefits from the Philippine government.
Fabian said that Romero’s family is entitled to receive P220,000 (about $5,238) in death and burial benefits and P15,000 (about $357) in livelihood assistance.
Romero’s younger daughter in the Philippines, who is 8 years old, is also entitled to full scholarship from elementary to college. She has another daughter aged 17, also in the Philippines.
“We offer our deepest sympathy to the family of our departed OWWA member, Emerita Relata Romero,” Fabian told Saipan Tribune. “We can coordinate with our office in Manila to help facilitate the processing of the benefits for the family’s use.”
Fabian noted, however, that the family will need to present pertinent documents such as police report and death certificate to file their claim with OWWA.
Romero’s death, Fabian said, is a “very unfortunate incident” that should remind Filipino workers in the CNMI of the importance of being an OWWA member.
According to Fabian, many Filipino workers who die while in the Commonwealth and are not OWWA members deprive their families of benefits that might otherwise provide financial support for them at a time of grief.
“We can never tell when our lives will come to an end. Romero’s case shows us the advantages of being an OWWA member, which could help the loved ones we leave behind receive some form of financial assistance to get by,” she said.