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Accusations fly in Filipino maid controversy
Dammam, 25th August 2001

  Saudi authorities are looking into a case filed by a Saudi national against the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh after he discovered that it had refused to let him enter the Southeast Asian country.

The Saudi has demanded financial compensation, in addition to an official apology. However, the embassy has justified its action by saying that the Saudi mistreated a Filipino woman while she was working in his household as a maid.

Philippine Ambassador Rafael Seguis has revealed to Arab News the reasons the maid says forced her to run away from her sponsor’s house.

According to the maid’s complaints recorded at the embassy, her sponsor had refused to pay her salary for seven months. The sponsor had also “exploited” her.

The ambassador insists that the maid will stay with the embassy until the matter is settled in a way that is acceptable to both sides.

The Saudi, on his part, said the maid had done nothing but cry since she arrived in the Kingdom and is merely looking for an excuse to return to her home country.

He elaborated that the maid had used the telephone to talk with a Filipino expatriate worker.

“Later, we discovered that he was working at the Philippine school in Alkhobar and was helping her to run away from my house,” he claimed.

“Two weeks after her arrival, I was surprised to learn that she had made the decision to run away,” the Saudi said.

He went to Alkhobar police station to make a report, and by chance found the maid he wanted to say had run away was sitting inside — demanding that she be allowed to return to the Philippines. In the end, the Saudi said, the police managed to get an undertaking from the maid that she would not abscond again.

The Saudi says that the maid nevertheless tried to run away from his house on several other occasions, and that each time the police were informed and a report was made.

Sometime later, the Saudi traveled to the Philippines to recruit workers for his commercial establishment. It was then, at the airport, that he discovered how the Philippine authorities were looking for him in connection with the charges made by the maid.

He had in effect been blacklisted, and was refused entry into the country.

The authorities in Manila have said they took the action on the recommendation of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

However, the Saudi was eventually able to leave the country — after paying $4,000.

After returning from the Philippines, the Saudi received a call from an official at its embassy in Riyadh who suggested he meet with the charge d’affaires and try to settle the issue cordially.

The Saudi insisted, however, that the embassy issue an official apology and pay compensation for the stress he had suffered at being refused entry to the Philippines.

The Saudi has also urged the embassy to hand the maid over to the Saudi authorities.

The embassy initially agreed to this demand, but has since decided to persevere in its attempts to settle the issue privately with the two parties directly involved.

More than 19,000 cases of maids who have fled their sponsor were reported last year, an official at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs previously confirmed.

Awadh Al-Radadi, undersecretary at the ministry, attributed the increasing tendency among the maids to escape from bad employers mainly to the latter’s failure to pay regularly the maids’ salaries.

In some cases, maids took to flight to escape ill-treatment by members of the employer’s family living in the same house. There were also cases where — as in the latest controversy — the maids were being influenced by their compatriots, who tempt them to make a run for it.

But some maids admit they ran away because they were simply unable to continue their job due to a combination of physical exhaustion and homesickness.

Maids of all nationalities, but particularly Indonesians, Filipinos and Sri Lankans, run away from their sponsors. The ministry that handles these “fleeing maids” provides food and lodging until the settlement of their cases, when they either return to their former employees or are deported to their home countries.

The department does not, however, deal with cases of maids with contagious diseases or involved in criminal activity.

The official urges sponsors to take care of their maids and not to abuse them.

Source: © SPA

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25 August 2001 07:03:16 PM

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