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OFW scalded by Saudi employer finally coming home after 4 years

MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Fahima Alagasi, who suffered severe burns after her Saudi employer doused her with hot water several years ago, is finally coming home after years of waiting, a lawmaker announced on Wednesday, April 4.

ACTS-OFW Representative Aniceto Bertiz III said in a news briefing on Wednesday that Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Dr Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Bussairy relayed the good news to him in a phone call.

"[He] informed me that Fahima can now leave Riyadh and come home anytime," Bertiz said.

He credited Alagasi's homecoming to President Rodrigo Duterte, who raised the OFW's case to Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif when he paid a courtesy call on the Philippine leader in Malacañang in March.

The 26-year-old Alagasi was only 22 when she accidentally dropped the lid of a Thermos bottle filled with hot water while preparing coffee for her employer. This annoyed her female employer, who poured the contents of the container all over her body.

Alagasi sought treatment for her second-degree burn injuries on her neck, a large part of her back, and her thighs. She ran away from her employer while she was undergoing treatment at the Raseel Medical Center, and sought refuge at a Philippine embassy shelter run in Riyadh.

Alagasi filed a complaint against her employer but the case was dismissed by a Saudi court. The employer retaliated with a false accusation charge and a claim for $66,000 (P3,435,960) in damages, which was dismissed by a Saudi judge.

The employer elevated the case to the appeals court and also filed an absconding case against Alagasi. These cases held back the OFW's repatriation for 4 years.

Bertiz said the Saudi ambassador told him that the employer's retaliatory cases against Alagasi "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."

The lawmaker described Alagasi's repatriation as a "heartwarming gesture" of the Saudi minister to Duterte.

"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. – Rappler.com

Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.

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