Filipina mom wins divorce, child custody suit in Turkey–with help of Philippines government
I’m kind of liking the government of the Philippines right now, especially their woman president. It’s not often that a government will help out a mom like that.
MANILA, Philippines—Overseas Filipino worker Jeanette Manuel and her one-year-old infant arrived in Manila on Tuesday after a Turkish court resolved a divorce and custody case and lifted the travel ban issued against Manuel’s baby.
Manuel and daughter Hannah arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 1 at 2:30 p.m. on Qatar Airways. They were welcomed by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) Chief Carmelita Dimzon.
“It’s a relief to be home, I’m forever thankful to our government for helping me,” teary-eyed Manuel, 42, told reporters.
She said she escaped from her husband Oguzhan Dur in August 2009, after he had repeatedly abused and imprisoned her in their home in Denizli, Turkey.
On the pretext of taking her daughter for a walk, Manuel said they took a seven-hour bus ride to Ankara where she sought help from the Philippine Embassy.
Manuel met and discussed her case with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who visited Turkey in September 2009. Upon the President’s instructions, government funds were used to pay for Manuel’s legal services.
A psychology graduate, Manuel originally worked as a human resource officer in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In search of greener pastures, she moved to Turkey in 2005 where she met her 32-year-old husband while setting up a silver jewelry business.
“At first, he was kind. Then he became mean and began to beat me up and threaten me,” she recounted.
Asked if she had pictures of her husband, Manuel replied: “No, I burned them all.”
She said she would be staying with her mother in Sampaloc, Manila. She added that she planned to rest and later look for a job.
Dimzon said the government contributed around $4,000 (P178,000) to Manuel’s divorce and child custody suit. She said the agency was prepared to further assist her with a loan or skills training.
Manuel said she would try to repay the money spent on her by the government. “If I get lucky I will return it so the government can help others like me.”
Dimzon credited Philippine Ambassador to Ankara Pedro O. Chan for attending the court hearing and informing the judge handling the case that he was personally interested in the welfare of Manuel and her daughter.
Manuel said Dur disowned his child before the court, which contributed to her victory in the suit.
“I prayed so I will win,” she said, adding that Turkish law usually awards child custody to the father.
Hannah celebrated her first birthday at the Philippine Embassy on April 12. According to the court decision, she is required to stay with her father, Oguzhan Dur, from the first day until the seventh day of the winter break and every year from July 1 to 20.
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