MANILA – The widow of Antonio Espares, the overseas Filipino worker who was beheaded in Libya last month, decried the way her husband's remains were treated, even as she begged for more financial assistance from the government now that she is a single mother.
Maribel Espares said her grief over her husband's death worsened after seeing the condition of his remains, which arrived in Manila over the weekend.
''Nung binuksan namin siya sa morgue, nasa kahoy, parang kabaong. Tapos sa loob, naka-ano lang po ng yero iyung kahoy. Tapos, nakabalot lang siya sa garbage bag,'' Maribel told dzMM.
''Iyung mukha ng asawa ko halos di na makilala kasi ang itim-itim, ang dumi dumi, puro buhangin ang katawan ng asawa ko. Para bang hayop na namatay na pinabayaan lang sa isang tabi."
Maribel also said her husband's left ear got detached.
She said the funeral parlor told her that her husband's remains did not undergo embalming.
''Binabad nila (funeral parlor) sa formalin para magawan ng paraan na makita ng mga anak niya ang hitsura [niya],'' she said.
''Tapos wala na iyung isang tainga. Basta na lang nakalgay ang ulo niya sa katawan niya eh, hindi pa po nakadugtong."
The slain OFW, who had left for Libya for the second time last October 2013, was one of the estimated 13,000 Filipinos in the besieged nation.
His beheading, and the gang-rape of a Filipina nurse, prompted the Philippine government to order the evacuation of all Filipinos in Libya.
Antonio didn't lie about his religion
Antonio was abducted by Libyan rebels last July 15 after being singled out because he was not a Muslim. His remains were found at a hospital five days later.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said the vehicle Antonio was riding in was stopped in a checkpoint. There were three of them-- a Libyan, a Pakistani and a Filipino.
Maribel said she was told by Antonio's fellow workers that her husband did not lie about his religion when he was accosted by the Libyan rebels.
''Lumabas daw sila sa barracks papunta ng site. Hinarang sila bigla ng mga rebelde, tapos iyung tatlo daw po pinababa, yung driver hindi. Sila daw tatlo pinababa tapos tinanong ang dalawa kung ano relihiyon, sinabi Muslim,'' she said.
''Si Tonio sinabi daw na siya ay Christian, kaya siya ay iniwan. Kaya 'yung dalawa eh pinabalik sa sasakyan, pinaalis na daw po. Iniwan siya. Nung binalikan siya ng kasamahan niya, wala na daw siya doon sa site na iyon."
The kidnappers had initially negotiated with the Filipino's company for a $160,000 ransom but eventually "they received a call from the abductors on July 20 (that) referred them to a Benghazi hospital", Jose said.
The beheaded body was found in the hospital in an advanced state of decomposition, indicating he may have been dead even while the negotiations were going on.
With the death of her husband, Maribel said she is now left with the daunting task of providing for her seven children, with the youngest in the brood only 16 years old.
Maribel said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) gave a scholarship grant to her oldest child, who is now in college. She, however, said this is not enough.
Maribel now worries about the future of her other children, saying she only earns very little as an employee at the Taguig City Hall.
''Paano ang gagawin ko sa iba kong anak? Malilit pa iyan at wala pa akong sapat na trabaho para subaybayan ang pag-aaral nila,'' said Maribel, who works as an enumerator at the city hall.