April 04, 2018 at 10:20 pm
Fahima ‘Candies’ Alagasi, the 26-year-old household service worker from Pikit, Cotabato who suffered severe burn injuries after she was doused with boiling water by her female employer in Riyadh four years ago, is finally coming home, a party-list lawmaker representing overseas workers said on Wednesday.
“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,” ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III said at a news conference.
Bertiz's stament came after Saudi Arabia Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif paid the employer’s claim for US$66,000 in damages. The employer’s slander charge had been pending before an appeals court.
“Dr. Al-Bussairy notified me that the retaliatory cases filed by the employer against Fahima have been resolved through the intercession of Saudi Prince and Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif soon after his official visit to the President in Malacañang,” Bertiz said.
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 employer seized the thermos and poured all its contents on her back, scalding the worker.
As a result, Alagasi suffered second-degree burn injuries on her neck, a large part of her back as well as on her thighs. She reeled in pain unattended for three hours before her employer allowed her to seek treatment.
“We consider Fatima’s repatriation as a heartwarming gesture from President Duterte, who brought up her case when the Saudi Prince paid a courtesy visit to Malacañang on Mar. 19,” Bertiz said.
Bertiz said Alagasi ran away from her employer while she was undergoing treatment for her burn injuries at the Raseel Medical Center, and sought refuge at a shelter run by the Philippine embassy in Riyadh.
“She filed a complaint against her employer but the case was dismissed by a Saudi court,” Bertiz said.
“The employer retaliated with false accusation charge plus a claim for US $66,000 (250,000 Saudi riyal) in damages against Fahima. The charge was dismissed by a Saudi judge, but the employer elevated the case to the appeals court,” Bertiz said.
The case held back her repatriation for nearly four years.
The employer also filed an absconding case against Alagasi after she fled, according to Bertiz.
“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. 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,” Bertiz said.