By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — In an attempt to escape abuse from her employer, a Filipina domestic worker jumped from the second floor of her employer’s apartment last September 5.
Hadeah Macalpang, 33, landed on the pavement after jumping from the second floor and was immediately taken by a passerby to the King Fahad hospital, in Al-Khobar, eastern City of Saudi Arabia. Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona released a report from Marcial Abay Jr., welfare officer of Migrante in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, indicating that Macalpang sustained a broken left leg and fractured hip from her fall.
“Our Migrante officers along with other OFW leaders headed by Mr. Abay Jr. got a chance to talk with Hadeah. During an interview with Hadeah in the hospital, she claimed that she was abused and maltreated by her employer.
Hadeah said a passing Saudi national, who saw her jump, assisted her as she lay prostate on the ground and took her to the police station. At the police station, police officers sent her to the hospital.
Hadeah said she had already completed her contract and had been working for two years and four months months. Her employer, however, refused to let her go home despite her pleas.
According to Hadeah, she only received 4,700 Saudi rials, roughly around P56,640 (US$1,317) the entire time she worked in Saudi.
“Assuming that she is paid 800 Saudi rials a month, she should have received 22,400 SR for her two years and four months,” Monterona explained.
In a video posted in Youtube by Migrante ME, Hadeah looked helpless and tearful as she lay in her hospital bed. In a tremulous voice, she said she had been exploited and wanted to go home as soon she got better.
Monterona said that as October 3, Migrante ME has already sought the assistance of Philippine labor officials in the Eastern region to help Hadea to get home.
He said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) officers in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia should immediately provide assistance to Hadeah and call the attention of her employer and local placement agency to settle her unpaid salaries and attend to her medical needs,” Monterona said.
Migrante ME is also assisting another OFW who was hit by a car driven by a Saudi national last Sept. 23.
Teodora Agaton, 53, from Tayabas, Quezon was walking with another OFW when she was hit by a car. The OFW who works as a beautician in Al-Khobar was rushed to King Fahad hospital.
Citing a report from Migrante officers in Al-Khobar, Monterona said Teodora has already asked assistance from Philippine Labor Attache Adam Musa, but Musa reportedly rejected the appeal. Musa reportedly said the Polo-Owwa does not have funds for hospitalization and medication of OFWs involved in accidents.
Teodora and other OFW friends have repeatedly tried to contact Musa through his mobile phone, but the official refused to answer.
“We cannot understand why Labatt Musa rejected Teodora’s plea for help. She is not asking for Musa’s personal money, she is asking help as an OFW who deserves the Polo-Owwa’s full assistance. The least that he could have done is instruct his staff to visit Teodora and recommend that the OWWA give her financial and medical assistance,” Monterona said.
“If Labatt Musa cannot give assistance to distressed OFWs such as Teodora, then he should resign so the Department of Labor and Employment can find a replacement for him; someone who can hopefully do a better job and be more compassionate towards distressed OFWs,” he said.
Polo-Owwa should go to OFWs’ aid
In the Philippines, Migrante International is insisting that the duty to help the two OFWs lies with the Philippine embassy in Saudi and the Polo-Owwa.
Campaign coordinator Sarah Maramag said that as OFWs and Owwa members, the two OFWs should receive benefits from certain programs of the agency.
One of the programs of Owwa is the Insurance and Health-Care Program. In cases of accidents and deaths, OFWs or their beneficiaries can claim a certain amount. Disability and dismemberment benefits amount to P2,000 to P50,000 (US$47 – US$1,163). Total disability benefits amount to P100,000 (US$2,325.)
“The Owwa should immediately provide for all member-OFWs who have been involved in accidents, particularly if the accidents were not of their own doing. The agency collects billions from OFWs and its mandate is to help OFWs in their time of immediate need. In the case of OFWs who are undocumented or not members of Owwa, it’s still the duty of the embassies and the consulates to help them,” Maramag said.
According to Maramag, Migrante International has documented cases wherein OFWs desperate to escape abusive employers sought the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and its offices abroad.
“The DFA and some embassies, however, callously advise the OFWs to jump from the window and that way validate their reasons and demands to be immediately sent home. It sounds outrageous, but it’s true. Instead of doing all that’s within their power to rescue and help distressed OFWs, the DFA and Philippine postings often do nothing. The least that they should do is to go after the abusive employers and insist that they be made accountable for what happened to their OFW employees. The embassies and consulates should also demand that these employers shoulder all the expenses incurred by their employees while in the hospital,” she said.