September 8, 2014
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), today called on the government to prioritize the repatriation of scalded OFW “Candice” Alagasi in light of the dismissal of the public rights complaints filed against her employers by a Saudi prosecutor.
The NGO called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to look into how the prosecutor arrived at said decision and why the Saudi lawyer hired by the Philippine Embassy was not able to defend the case at the prosecutorial level.
“We received information from our Embassy that the prosecutor in the maltreatment case ordered the dismissal of public rights charges against “Candice’s” employers, including the mother of her male employer who allegedly poured boiling water on the OFW’s back. While we respect the Saudi legal system, we truly lament this decision and view it as a travesty of justice given the life-threatening ordeal that she went through,” Susan Ople, head of the policy center said.
In a radio interview this morning, the OFW advocate said the NGO community would like to ask the DFA and the Philippine Embassy how an obvious case of maltreatment ended in the dismissal of charges. “Anyare?”, Ople said, noting that from the very start, the aggrieved OFW fully cooperated with the police investigation.
Given the lamentable outcome of the case, the Ople Center urged the the Philippine government to heed the OFW’s appeal for immediate repatriation.
“If justice remains elusive in Saudi Arabia, then let’s bring her home so that she can start anew and embark on a healing process in the company of those who loved her the most – her immediate family especially her children,” Ople said.
According to Ople, she wrote an e-mail last week to Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin Tago to follow up on “Candice’s” case, since little was heard about her case after her rescue from a clinic while being treated for burns last May.
Ambassador Tago replied and informed the Ople Center that major developments have come up in the case, including the decision of the prosecutor to dismiss the public rights case against the OFW’s employer’s mother whom she accused of pouring hot water on her. The ambassador said that he had already requested the embassy-hired lawyer to provide a full report and assessment of the case to the Philippine Embassy.
Ople said she also learned that instead of getting justice for her ordeal, “Candice” is now facing slander charges in Saudi filed against her by her employer’s mother, which may affect her immediate repatriation.
In his e-mail, the ambassador assured the Ople Center that “Candice” is physically well, and was able to receive monetary compensation from her local and Saudi-based agencies. He also informed the Ople Center that he had already met with Undersecretary for Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia specifically to make representations in behalf of the scalded OFW. (30)