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Filipina cruise ship crew kills self while awaiting repatriation

12 June 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Jocson was found dead inside her cabin aboard the Harmony of the Seas (Cruise Law News photo)

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr has decried the death of a 28-year-old Filipina who took her own life in the cabin of the cruise ship where she worked because of repeated cancellations of her flight home.

Locsin said 28-year-old Mariah Jocson, an assistant waitress, died in her cabin on Jun 10 aboard the Harmony of the Seas cruise ship docked off Barbados.

“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,” Locsin tweeted.

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He said he knew quarantine facilities in Metro Manila were jampacked, but he wasn’t sure why.

“We are tartly reminded that Filipino resilience is no excuse to stretch them to breaking point. Di sila goma; tao sila (They’re people, not rubber bands),” Locsin said.

Jocson is the second known OFW to have committed suicide while awaiting repatriation after losing her job due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Another Filipina worker was earlier reported to have taken her own life on May 24, while staying at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office shelter in Lebanon.

On Apr 26, a 42-year-old woman repatriated from Kuwait also killed herself as she was about the end her 14-day quarantine in a government-designated facility in Pasay City.

But news blog Cruise Law News said in a recent report that there were at least three other seafarers who committed suicide while awaiting repatriation.

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“A week ago, a long term employee from the Philippines died suddenly on a Crystal Cruises ship. Two weeks ago, a Filipino crew member died on the Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady. A Filipino galley employee on the AIDAblu also died,” it said.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement released yesterday, Jun 11, that Malacanang is saddened by Jocson’s death.

“We ask relevant agencies of the government to look into (the) mental anguish of those adversely affected by Covid-19. The worldwide pandemic is taking an emotional toll on everyone  and we must help our countrymen how to cope with stress, fear and worry in this challenging time,” Roque said.

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He added the government is looking for ways to speed up the return of all OFWs from all over the world.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he would investigate Joscon’s death.

In a separate interview, he also said OFWs will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days once they test negative for the coronavirus.

Bello said in a radio interview that the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force against Covid-19 does not want a repeat of the previous incident in which more than 40,000 OFWs spent nearly two months in quarantine facilities before they were transported home to their provinces.
He said all returning OFWs will be given swab tests on their arrival at the airport, and will have to wait only between two and five days for the results. If they test negative, they will be sent home, but local government heads could still decide to put them under home quarantine.
A group of seafarers was flown to Clark Airport earlier this week after being stranded at seas for months

Meanwhile, local reports in Barbados say the Harmony of the Seas with around 2,000 crew members docked in the country’s Bridgetown Port only last May 27.

However, many of the crew members had been on other cruise ships for up to 90 days earlier, including the Vision of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, and Rhapsody of the Seas. Jocson was previously on the Rhapsody.

Cruise Law News says the Royal Caribbean had listed over 20 flights from Barbados to the Philippines in the next three weeks until the end of June.
From Locsin’s statement if would seem that most, if not all, the flights had been canceled earlier because of the government’s attempt to decongest quarantine facilities.

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