By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA — The Filipina domestic worker in Saudi Arabia who was scalded with boiling water four years ago is scheduled to arrive in the country Friday, after a four-year legal battle with her employer, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Thursday.
Pahima Alagasi would depart for Manila Thursday evening after the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh secured the assistance of Saudi authorities in clearing her exit from the Gulf state, said the DFA.
Alagasi left the country in March 2014 and served as a household service worker in Riyadh.
Two months later, she sought refuge at the Embassy after she was hospitalized with serious burns she claimed she sustained after the mother of her employer poured boiling water on her back.
The Embassy assisted Alagasi, a separated mother of two from Pikit, North Cotabato, in filing a case of maltreatment against the mother of her employer. However, this was dismissed after she failed to prove her accusation.
The overseas Filipino worker (OFW) has been staying at the Embassy’s Bahay Kalinga shelter since then and could not return to the Philippines after her employer filed a counter case against her.
Ambassador to Riyadh Adnan Alonto cited the critical role of Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif who approved her final exit from the kingdom.
“Pahima’s return would not have been possible without the help of Prince Abdulaziz and we would like to express our profound gratitude to him for his magnanimous gesture,” said Alonto, who would be accompanying Alagasi on her flight to Manila.
The envoy said it was Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Nasser Al-Daood who informed him during a meeting on Sunday that Alagasi could now return to the Philippines.
During that meeting, Al-Daood also turned over to Alagasi two months worth of unpaid salaries from her employer.
Alagasi said she is grateful to finally be able to come home after waiting for the resolution of her case.
She also expressed her gratitude to the Philippine government and Prince Abdulaziz for facilitating her exit from Saudi Arabia.
Among others, she thanked President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the DFA, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Philippine Embassy, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh, as well as the Blas Ople Policy Center and members of the Filipino community in Riyadh for their help.
Aside from providing her with legal aid, the Embassy also provided Alagasi with medical and social assistance and kept her in constant touch with her family in North Cotabato. (PNA)