DFA Usec. Domingo helps repatriate Pinoy’s remains from UAE

A group chat hastily organized on Saturday solved a knotty problem of repatriating the remains of Robert Halili Mañego who died on March 2 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Sorting out the problem with urgency and dispatch, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Jesus “Gary” S. Domingo organized the group chat to brainstorm and find a solution to the problem.

Aside from Usec. Domingo, the group chat included Usec. Eddie de Vega of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) and Cenon “Nonie” C. Sagadal, Jr., a bank marketing representative and Filipino community leader in Riyadh.

Sagadal sought a solution to the issue after Brian Tongol, a fellow bank marketing representative, approached him for help. Tongol is a brother-in-law of the deceased whose daughter Roanne Mañego Al Amady asked
for help.

Following the group chat, the OUMWA contacted Consul General Jun Dueñas of the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai (Dubai PG).

Responding to Undersecretary Vega, Dueñas said, “Sir, we’ve contacted Ms. Mañego and conveyed to her that Dubai PCG will be extending assistance to the family towards the repatriation of the remains of her father.”

He added that the Consulate “will seek an appointment with the hospital management soonest. Admin office is closed on weekends.“

In appealing for help, Mañego said her father was declared dead on March 2, 2023 at the Al Qashimi Hospital, which refused to release the body because of unpaid bills amounting to AED (Arab Emirates Dirham) 118,832.41 (Php 1,692,153) after a discount of 20 percent because of her father’s travel insurance.

Strapped for cash, she approached charity organizations like the Red Crescent but those do not support a person on a visitor visa. “Only Emirates ID holders are favored,“ she said.

Earlier, she visited officials of the hospital to seek a solution but they insisted that she sign an undertaking letter that she would pay the amount in installments so her father’s body could be released. Legal action would be taken against her if she missed any installment payment.

She explained that the amount was beyond her capacity to pay even in installments.

“My father was the main provider in my big family but now that he’s gone I have to send money home regularly, a good part of which will go to my mother’s medication,“ she said.

She added, “I came to know that … it was possible to waive the amount provided that a high government official would intervene and talk to the officials of the hospital, which belonged to the government.”

Mañego explained that her father suddenly got sick three days after arriving in the UAE, complaining of stomachache so she took him to the hospital on Feb. 11.

She said the doctors could not come up with an accurate diagnosis regarding his ailment. His health gradually deteriorated until he passed on.

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