MANILA - A group assisting distressed overseas Filipino workers on Wednesday called on the government to invoke the country's bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia in obtaining justice for a 23-year-old domestic worker who was badly injured after her employer doused her with boiling water.
"We are calling on both governments to go over and beyond the spirit of this bilateral labor agreement to ensure that justice is served and that no one else would suffer the same barbaric treatment. Her employers must be held accountable for treating our ‘kababayan’ even worse than a slave,” said Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center.
Ople said the Agreement on Domestic Worker Recruitment Between the Ministry of Labor of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the DOLE aims to protect the rights of both employers and domestic workers and regulate contractual relation between them. The agreement was signed by both governments on May 19, 2013.
"In this recent OFW case, her employers beat her up on the fifth day of her employment. She suffered burns on her body and legs after the mother of her lady employer threw boiling water at her. The OFW had a cousin in Saudi Arabia who helped her escape from the medical facility where she was receiving treatment. Said OFW is now under the care of the Philippine Embassy," Ople said.
Under Article 4 of the agreement, Saudi Arabia must "ensure that the welfare and rights of domestic workers employed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are promoted and protected in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations."
"The Saudi government which recently has set up its own hotline for foreign domestic workers should be given the opportunity to demonstrate its sincerity in fulfilling the provisions of this historic bilateral agreement. On the Philippine government side, we would like to see concrete legal and other forms of assistance provided to distress OFWs as mandated by our own laws," Ople said.