OFW scalded by boss in Riyadh to come home after 4 years

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2018 04:18 PM | Updated as of Apr 15 2018 11:13 AM

These photos show wounds of then 22-year-old Candies Alagasi after her employer poured boiling contents of a thermos on her back. Courtesy of ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III’s office

These photos show wounds of then 22-year-old Candies Alagasi after her employer poured boiling contents of a thermos on her back. Courtesy of ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III’s office

These photos show wounds of then 22-year-old Candies Alagasi after her employer poured boiling contents of a thermos on her back. Courtesy of ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III’s office


MANILA - The Filipina maid who suffered severe burns after she was doused with boiling water by her female employer in Riyadh 4 years ago is finally coming home, a lawmaker said Wednesday. 

The repatriation of 26-year-old Fahima "Candies" Alagasi was a "heartwarming gesture" by Saudi Arabian prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif to President Rodrigo Duterte, ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III told reporters. 
 
Duterte, he noted, brought up the OFW's case when the prince visited him in Malacañang last March. 

“I am pleased to report that a few hours ago, I received a phone call from Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Manila, (His Excellency) Dr. Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Bussairy, who informed me that Fahima can now leave Riyadh and come home anytime,” said Bertiz. 

“Anytime po, inaayos po 'yung kaniyang mga travel document, finally makakauwi na po.”

Alagasi was only 22 years old when she dropped the lid of a thermos while preparing coffee for her employer. When she stooped to pick up the cap, her annoyed boss seized the thermos and poured all its boiling contents on her back. 

The Filipina suffered second-degree burns on her neck, a large part of her back, and on her thighs. She reeled in pain unattended for 3 hours before her employer allowed her to seek treatment.
 
LEGAL BATTLE 

Alagasi ran away from her employer while getting treatment at a hospital and sought refuge at a shelter run by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

She then filed a complaint against her employer, but it was dismissed by a Saudi court, said Bertiz. 

The employer later retaliated with an absconding case against Alagasi for fleeing and sought $66,000 in damages. The case was dismissed, but the employer elevated it to an appeals court, he said. 

The legal battle held back Alagasi's repatriation for nearly 4 years.

“We thank President Duterte and the Saudi Prince for intervening in this case. Without their help, Fahima’s dream of seeing her children would have been impossible,” Bertiz said.
 
"The false accusation and absconding cases filed by the employer against Fahima have been resolved. She has been cleared to leave Riyadh, and we intend to bring her home right away." 

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR OFWs 

Susan Ople of the Ople Center, which had worked on the Alagasi's case, urged the government to train migrant workers in using social media to report their situation abroad. 

Alagasi's cousin shared online photos of her injuries, but these were cited in the case that her employer filed, noted Ople. 

"Dapat tingnan din ng gobyerno: iba ibang bansa, iba ibang batas tungkol sa paggamit ng social media. In this case, maganda ang intensiyon ng pinsan na i-post ang litrato ni Fahima, kaso nagamit ito ng employer para kasuhan siya," she said.

"So baka dapat may social media protocols or guidelines para sa mga papaalis na OFW at sa Filipino communities."