Press Release
March 6, 2014

Villar gives assistance to injured OFW

An overseas Filipino worker who was injured while working in Lebanon received much-needed assistance from Sen. Cynthia Villar and the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (SIPAG).

Janice Pengson, 29, was an undocumented domestic helper in Beirut and repatriated in January after sustaining injuries when she fell from the 2nd floor of her employer's house while cleaning windows.

Pengson visited Villar in her Senate office today and received a wheelchair from the senator.

Medical assistance worth P10,000 at the Philippine General Hospital was also given along with a P5,000 grocery certificate and P5,000 cash to help her jumpstart a sari-sari store in Isabela.

"We want to give Janice a wheelchair so she can move around. We hope to be able to help her again when she undergoes surgery," Villar said.

Villar referred Pengson to the Las Pinas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center and she was found to be suffering from a compression fracture of her L3 bone and in need of surgery. But due to her pregnancy, she cannot be operated on right away.

After falling, Pengson thought that she did not suffer any injuries. However, hours after the accident, she felt a sharp stabbing pain on her back. Her lower body eventually became paralyzed.

Pengson was confined in a hospital in Beirut for almost three months. Her employer claimed that she intentionally jumped from the 2nd floor and refused to pay for her medical expenses.

Her mother, Merlyn Pengson, sought the help of the government to repatriate and pay for her daughter's hospital expenses.

"The government's effort should be commended for the repatriation of Janice despite her undocumented status. A large amount was needed because she had to be transported in a lying position and needed to occupy six plane seats," Villar said.

However, Villar said there is still a pressing need to institutionalize a system that will extend assistance to any OFW in distress, documented or undocumented.

Senate Bill No. 32, which she authored, seeks to put in place a mechanism to alleviate the plight of undocumented OFWs in distress. It seeks to create a Php 1 billion special fund that can be used for repatriation, medical expenses, hospitalization and purchase of medicine of returning sick overseas workers, migration fees for overstaying Filipinos; legal assistance including litigation expenses, legal fees, payment of translation fees, attendance in court hearings; payment of blood money, when necessary; and basic necessities of OFWs caught in emergencies or are detained.

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