A Filipina cruise ship worker committed suicide in Barbados while awaiting repatriation to the Philippines amid the coronavirus crisis, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said Thursday.
The victim was identified as Mariah Jocson, 28, who was found dead on June 9 inside her cabin in the Royal Caribbean ship, Harmony of the Seas. The ship stopped its operations due to the pandemic and docked off Barbados.
Locsin confirmed yesterday that the Pinay worker took her own life while onboard the cruise, where there are also at least 2,000 crew members waiting for repatriation.
“It is my sad duty to report that a 28-year-old female mariner committed suicide in her cabin in the ship where she’s had to stay because repatriation flights back to the Philippines have been suspended again. I know our quarantine facilities are jam-packed; just don’t know why,” Locsin said in a post on his Twitter account.
The DFA Secretary said the crews seemed “detained” while they waited for “repeatedly rescinded repatriation.”
“Second suicide. We are tartly reminded that Filipino resilience is no excuse to stretch them to breaking point. Di sila goma, tao sila (They are not rubber; they are people),” Locsin said.
The blog Cruise Law News reported that aside from the Filipina cruise ship worker, there are also other eight crew members who committed suicide since May 1.
In May, another Filipina waiting for repatriation also committed suicide in Lebanon. She was a household worker.
DFA reported the Filipina worker was under the custody of the Philippine embassy when she took her own life.
Malacañang tasked the concerned government agencies to take care of the mental health of OFWs affected by the pandemic. It also ordered them to speed-up the overseas workers’ return to the Philippines.
“The Palace is saddened by the unfortunate death of a seafarer on board the Harmony of the Seas for repatriation… Concerned authorities are now investigating the matter,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement.
“We ask relevant agencies of the government to look into mental anguish of those adversely impacted by the COVID-19. The worldwide pandemic is taking an emotional toll on everyone and we must help our countrymen cope with stress, fear and worry in this challenging time,” he added.