Saudi OFW kicked, lashed, poured boiling water

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A HOUSEHOLD service worker (HSW) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) became the latest victim in the growing list of abused overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) after she was kicked, lashed and poured boiling water by her male employer.

A report by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Riyadh said Pahima Alagasi Palacasi was abused by her employer, Adil Akmad Badjuid, as well as the latter's mother.

"She is stable, in high spirits, and is relating well with fellow OFWs at the Bahay Kalinga. She would be calling her relatives tomorrow," said Labor Attaché to Riyadh Rustico Dela Fuente in a statement released by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) Tuesday.

According to the report of Dela Fuente, Palacasi arrived in Riyadh only last March when she was deployed by Philippine recruitment agency, A-M Philippine Professional Services Corporation, to Al Motkasess Recruitment Office, a Saudi recruitment agency.

Palacasi claimed that she was constantly kicked and lashed by her male employer and eventually brought her back to the SRA after she complained constantly of homesickness.

Subsequently, the 23-year-old female worker from Malapaan, Pikit, Cotabato was transferred to the house of her employer's mother because the wife of her employer refused to accept her.

She suffered the similar fate at her sponsor's mother when she poured boiled water over Palacasi due to a simple misunderstanding, which is her sponsor's mother not speaking in English.

As a result, Palacasi was taken to a hospital for treatment of the wounds she sustained and returned home the same day.

She was able to escape from the hospital on May 11 and went straight to the house of her cousin while her employer reported to the SRA that Palacasi ran away while undergoing treatment.

It was on May 17 when Palacasi's cousin posted photos of her scalded wounds on the social networking site, Facebook.

The next day, Palacasi was fetched from the residence of her relative and brought her to the Shumaisy Hospital for fresh dressing for her wounds and for medication.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said they have already ordered the immediate suspension of Al Motkasess Recruitment Office.

"Labor Attaché to Riyadh Rustico Dela Fuente promptly placed it on documentary suspension, which prevents it from recruiting any more workers from the Philippines," said Baldoz.

She added that the Philippine government is prepared to assist Palacasi in filing a case against the employer, Adil Akmad Badjuid.

"OFW Palacasi is determined to file a case against the employer. The Embassy and the Polo will assist her," said Baldoz.

Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday vowed that the Philippine government will pursue the filing of charges against an Arab employer who poured boiling water on Palacasi in Saudi Arabia.

Binay, who is the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers' (OFW) Concerns, added that he already instructed the Special Concerns Unit of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to get updates on the case and pursue the necessary legal actions.

"Kalunos-lunos po ang dinanas ng ating kababayan. No person deserves to be treated that way. Kung mapapatunayan natin na minaltrato siya, magsasampa tayo ng kaso at sisiguraduhin natin na mabibigyan siya ng hustisya," he said.

The Vice President said he has also instructed lawyer Deogracias Grafil, head of the OVP Special Concerns Unit, to coordinate with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to verify if the OFW was legally employed and to check what other forms assistance can be offered to her.

Binay also renewed his call to Filipinos aspiring to work abroad to apply through legal channels.

"Para rin po ito sa sarili ninyong kaligtasan. Mas madali po kayong matutulungan ng pamahalaan kung sakali mang makaranas kayo ng aberya o anumang suliranin," he said.

Aside from assisting her in pursuing cases versus her employer, Dole is also prepared to assist Palacasi and her family through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

"Even if Palacasi is not an OWWA member, she can avail of livelihood assistance under the Balik-Pinay, Balik-Hanapbuhay when and if she decides to come home," said Baldoz.

The Balik-Pinay, Balik-Hanapbuhay is one of the income augmentation components of the National Reintegration Program for OFWs, which provides economic opportunities through skills training and livelihood starter kits. (HDT/Jun M. Sarmiento/Sunnex)

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