By Philippine Reporter Team
TORONTO --The still unsolved murder of live-in-caregiver Jocelyn Dulnuan inside a Mississauga mansion has profoundly touched the Filipino community in Toronto , and elsewhere, that a “justice for Jocelyn” movement has emerged in its wake.
The Jocelyn Dulnuan Support Committee in a meeting last Friday, October 12, decided to pursue justice for the slain Filipino caregiver. It plans to seek a dialogue with the Philippine consulate about the Dulnuan case and the question of putting in place an appropriate system for repatriating the body of slain overseas workers in the future.
In an informal gathering at the hall of St. Simon's Anglican Church on Bloor St. East , leaders of community organizations and individuals from the Filipino community have expressed solidarity in a campaign to seek justice through various actions.
Last Sunday, October 14, a memorial mass held in her honour at the St. Simon's Anglican Church brought together hundreds of people, mostly live-in-caregivers, leaders of sev ral Filipino-Canadian organizations, members of the indigenous tribe that Dulnuan was a part of, and friends and relatives of the slain 27-year old. The memorial mass, officiated by Fr. Ariel Dumaran, also included eulogies and speeches from family representatives and organizers of the Jocelyn Dulnuan Support Group, songs, and a candle-light ceremony before a photo of a smiling Jocelyn.
The previous weekend, on Saturday, Oct. 6, a press conference and fundraising held by migrant workers and Filipino-Canadian groups at the Patricia Kemp Community Centre in Vaughan , Ontario , was attended by over 150 people, many of them caregivers who came in droves to show support to their fallen colleague.
The event raised almost $5,000, which organizers said will be used in transporting the body from Manila to Dulnuan's village in the Mountain Province , for funeral expenses expected to be incurred by the family and Dulnuan's tribal community, while the rest will go to a trust fund for her four-year old daughter in the Philippines . This was announced by Linda Insigne, president of the Federation of Filipino Canadians of Vaughan, during the memorial mass.
Various Filipino-Canadian organizations and community leaders have initiated their own fund-raising efforts, to add to the fund. For instance, during the 18th anniversary dinner dance of the Markham Federation of Filipino Canadians on Saturday, Oct. 13, a total of $7,500 was raised. $700 came from proceeds of a raffle held that night; $130 was donated by the University of the Philippine Alumni Association-Toronto which earlier that day passed the hat for donations during the group's immigrants mentoring program; individual donors then pitched in to fill up the collection to total of $1,000. Markham Councillor Alex Chiu donated $6,500 from the Alex Chiu Charities, a gesture which was applauded by people in attendance, including MP Lui Tamelkovski who expressed his condolence to Imee Belanger, a representative of Dulnuan's family and the Jocelyn Dulnuan Support Committee, who was there to receive the donation, and who had commended the MFFC and Councillor Chiu for their noble gesture of generous support.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Consulate and the Office of the Labour Attache in Toronto had announced that they will help in transporting Dulnuan's body to the Philippines , following the Department of Foreign Affairs instruction to do so, as well as to seek justice for Jocelyn.
For almost two weeks the Peel Region police have been tight-lipped over the progress of their investigation. And with news that only a list of 20 people will be allowed to view Dulnuan's body prior its airlift to Manila , the prevailing sentiment in the community is that of frustration, according to Sol Pajadura , head of Migrantte-Ontario, one of the key leaders of the Jocelyn Dulnuan Support Committee that had organized the press conference.
Community members have also expressed disgust over the way Dulnuan's death and investigation are being handled by authorities. According to reliable sources, Dulnuan's closest of kin have been asked by Peel police not to talk about her death, and to stay away from the media. Moreover, the fairly sizeable indigenous Ifugao community of which Dulnuan is a part, has expressed resentment over what they consider a culturally insensitive way Dulnuan's funeral arrangements are being arranged reportedly by Peel police, on the strength of a power of attorney reportedly acquired from Dulnuan's mother, who is also a caregiver based in HongKong.
Johnson Aben, president of BIBAK, an organization composed of members of six indigenous tribes in the Philippines, told media that it is their cultural practice to let everyone view the body and wish the spirit peace, otherwise the elders would be much displeased if this practice is not observed, and a curse could descend on them and their families, that my cause illness even on their children.
A statement issued by the Jocelyn Dulnuan Support Committee said: “The proper institution to ensure that justice is pursued and the muderer(s) of Jocelyn punished is the Philippine consulate. It is the role of the Philippine consulate to protect the rights of Filipinos in Toronto and surrounding regions. At the very minimum the Philippine consulate has the duty both to pull every diplomatic lever it can to ensure that justice is thoroughly pursued by the local Canadian authorities while keeping the Filipino community properly informed of its efforts. We note that Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Claro Cristobal said that Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo has instructed Alejandro Mosquera “to provide full cooperation for bringing anyone responsible for the crime to justice....” Given the sorry history with other cases of Filipino migrants that have come to grief and the initial response of the local consulate and labour attaché to our approach for help, we can only hope that these instructions are not mere public relations exercises.”
Imie Belanger, a member of the Jocelyn Dulnuan Support Committee and a member of the Ifugao community in Ontario , of which Dulnuan was also a part, issued the following statement:
“The Philippine Government together with the Peel Police will cover the cost of the full repatriation of Jocelyn's remains. The Provincial Government of Ifugao will help in transporting Jocelyn's family members from the airport to Ifugao. The funds raised will go towards transporting her remains from the airport to Ifugao where she will be given a proper Ifugao burial. Any left over funds will be put in trust for the child's education.
“We are overwhelmed by the support we have received so far from friends and the community in response to our plea for help. It is very comforting to know that so many people care. And so I have no doubt in my mind that we - the Filipino community will work together cohesively with the Peel Police and the Philippine Consulate to give Jocelyn the justice she deserves, and to ensure that any similar tragedy in the future will be handled appropriately and efficiently so no family of any victim will go through what we are currently going through.
“We will publish all the donors and the amount raised as soon as we have it. The list of donors will also be given to the family in accordance to our ifugao custom.”
The Jocelyn Dulnuan Support Committee is composed the following: Damayan Migrant Resource and Education Centre, Philippine Advocacy Through Arts in Canada (PATAC), SIKLAB-Ontario, Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada-Toronto (UKPC-TO),United Filipinos for Nationalism and Democracy (UFiND), Asosacion Negrense, AWARE/Gabay, Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ), Ifugao Association, Philippine Independence Day Council (PIDC), Philippine Network for Justice and Peace, and Santaginian Association of Ontario, Filipino Association of Vaughan, Fr. Ariel Dumaran of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish and members of Jocelyn Dulnuan's extended family and friends.
Jun Enverga, president of the Philippine Independence Day Council, expressed the community's desire to view the body and that he will be seeking the assistance of the Philippine Consulate General to seek representation with the police to make this happen.
Hermie Garcia, president of the Community Alliance for Social Justice, said in an interview with ABS-CBN that the murder of Dulnuan brings again to the limelight the plight of most live-in caregivers in Canada who are in vulnerable conditions in their employers' houses, made to work up to 12 hours and on weekends without overtime pay. It also demonstrates the urgent need, he said, for fundamental changes in the regulations and programs that cover them, particularly the Live-In Caregiver Program.
Garcia also said that the Philippine and Canadian authorities should be culturally sensitive enough to see to it that the traditions and practices of the Ifugao community on funeral rites be followed in the case of Dulnuan. This is in reference to not imposing a limit on the number of people allowed to view Dulnuan's body in Toronto .
Meanwhile, the viewing of the body of Dulnuan at Scott's Funeral Homes on Dundas St. and Cawthra in Mississauga is reportedly scheduled Monday, Oct. 15. Some of those who attended the memorial mass on Sunday, Oct. 14, plan to go even if they are not included in the list of 20 names allowed to attend the viewing. They said they would stay outside of the funeral home and will just show their moral support for Dulnuan.
The murder of Dulnuan has not only attracted coverage by mainstream media in Toronto, but also in the Philippines where newspapers and broadcast media have followed up on developments here as well as in Dulnuan's home village.
In one coverage aired internationally on Oct. 12 and which reached Toronto viewers, an ABS-CBN TV Patrol newscaster reported that Dulnuan's husband claimed that Jocelyn had told him in a phone conversaton that the spouse of the house's owner was jealous of her. He was also reported by the newscaster to have said that the employers of Dulnuan should be investigated.