IFSW and the Philippine Association of Social Workers have been shocked by the murder of former PASWI President, Finardo G. Cabilao, who was working as a social welfare attaché based in the Philippine embassy in Malaysia since 2008. He was found dead at his residence on 7 August 2009 after having been missing from work for 2 days. He was working to support Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were though to be the victims of an organized trafficking syndicate in Malaysia. Colleagues described him as a ‘fighter for client’s rights …. who consistently upheld the principles of protecting the worth and dignity of every human being. His entire life was dedicated to the service of the most disadvantaged groups, the children, juvenile delinquents, women, senior citizens, and the victims of trafficking and it seems that he met his end as a result of this commitment. Philippine Ambassador to Kuala Lumpur, Victoriano Lecaros, called on Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman at the Malaysian Foreign Ministry to discuss the murder. During the meeting, the Malaysian Foreign Minister expressed his government’s assurances that they will “leave no stone unturned” in pursuing justice for Mr. Cabilao.
IFSW President Dr David N Jones, IFSW Secretary General Tom Johannesen, IFSW Asia Pacific President John Ang and IFSW Human Rights Commissioner, Ruth Stark, expressed shock and condolences to Mr. Cabilao’s family and the social work community in the Philippines. ‘Mr Cabilao made a huge contribution to the development of social work in the Philippines and served with distinction as President of PASWI’, David Jones said. IFSW will do all we can in partnership with the associations in The Philippines and Malaysia to get justice for Mr Cabilao.
‘This brutal crime reminds us that social work is dangerous work, wherever it takes place’, David Jones continued. ‘Supporting people whose human rights are being abused is never easy. The powerful always find ways to challenge and resist. Social workers around the world are shocked by this crime. We all extend our condolences and warmest wishes to Mrs Cabilao and her young family and to social work colleagues in The Philippines. We honour the commitment and dedication which is evident in the life and work of Mr. Cabilao, who will be remembered as a committed professional colleague and a true member of the world social work community.’