By Walden Bello
Alona Bagayan, a 31-year-old Filipino domestic worker from Kalayaan, Laguna, lost her life in Dubai on Feb. 5, 2013. The Director of the Forensic Department of the Dubai Police General Headquarters classified the death as “suicide” in a report submitted on March 17, 2013. Shortly after Alona’s body arrived in the Philippines in early April, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) did a second autopsy, the report of which was authorized for release just over a week ago.
Pag-asa (the Filipino word for hope) is the largest island in Kalayaan, a group of islands that is part of the disputed Spratly island chain in the West Philippine Sea. The Spratly islands are claimed wholly or partly by China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines. In 1978, the Philippines established the municipality of Kalayaan, formally claiming the island group as its territory; a community, including a small military presence, has since set down roots on Pag-asa.