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OFW slapped, verbally abused inside PH Consulate in Jeddah; Consul admits to ‘hurtful words’

An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) accused a top Philippine diplomat in Jeddah of verbal abuse and other mission personnel of physical harm inside the Consulate General in Saudi Arabia last April 5.

Marvin Carnate Andigos, an out of work OFW in Jeddah since 2018, said Consul General Edgardo Badajos verbally abused him inside the Consulate’s conference room, a charge admitted to Kodao by the diplomat.

Badajos’s outburst came after two mission employees physically hurt him, Andigos said.

“He called me a son of a bitch many times after his (Badajos) driver and another employee slapped me on my left cheek and at the top of my head,” Andigos said.

“We’re sons of bitches? You are the son of a bitch!” Badajos reportedly shouted at the OFW several times in Filipino.

Andigos said he had been going to the Consulate since April 2018 to seek assistance for what he said was an unjust dismissal by his former Saudi employers at El Khayyat Gypsum Factories. He said he was fired for chronic absenteeism, a charge he denies.

He said he never received assistance from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Jeddah even after several trips to the mission and despite the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration office in Manila already recommending assistance.

Andigos said he also inquired with the Consulate on whether he would be eligible for the US$200 assistance announced by the Philippine government to OFWs who lost jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, to no avail.

The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where Marvin Agdigos claimed he was verbally and physically abused by officials. (Consulate photo)

Frustrated at the lack of help, Andigos said he posted a video online last April 4 where he questioned why the Consulate is not giving away aid meant for OFWs. In the short video, the distressed OFW used invectives and wished the people of the mission harm from the pandemic.  

“But those were not directed at any particular person,” he said.

The next day, he was fetched by leaders of a Filipino community organization in Jeddah who Andigos said did nothing to help him when he was being physically harmed and verbally abused inside the mission premises.

“It was as if I was set up by the so-called community leaders,” Andigos told Kodao.

‘Inadvertent harm’

Philippine Consul General to Jeddah, KSA Edgardo Badajos. (Consulate photo)

Asked to reply to the OFW’s allegations, Badajos said Andigos may have been accidentally harmed when the mission’s security personnel were restraining him from taking videos while inside the premises.

“It was probably in the course of trying to stop the man from taking videos that some force, with no deliberate intention to harm, was applied on him. Security personnel, in their attempt to stop him from further taking videos of the Consulate premises, tried to take away his phone, holding his arms and shoulders in the process,” Badajos said in an interview via email.

The diplomat said the security personnel concerned categorically deny using unnecessary force on Andigos but added that “administrative sanctions will be meted out, if warranted.”

Badajos also admitted that “some hurtful words may have been exchanged” but said there was no deliberate intent to malign Andigos.

The Consul General justified his outburst, saying the OFW was arguing loudly and was not conciliatory despite pleas for him to calm down.

Badajos added that he felt the Consulate’s integrity was “viciously and maliciously attacked” by the OFW in his April 4 video.

Nonetheless, the diplomat said he “immediately apologized to Mr. Andigos after the meeting for some unpleasant words that were uttered.”

Andigos, however, said he did not hear of any apology from Badajos, further accusing the mission chief of being “such a liar.”

He added that he does not believe the slaps were accidental, saying the blows were delivered with intent.

The OFW challenged Badajos to produce the closed circuit television footage of the incident to prove who was telling the truth.

Asking for repatriation

Marvin Andigos. (Screengrab from video sent to Kodao)

Since being fired from his job in 2018, Andigos said he had been living on temporary and menial jobs as well as the kindness of compatriots to survive.

Andigos said he had to beg around for fare money in order to repeatedly follow up on his unjust dismissal complaint with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office holding office inside the Consulate, but has been merely given the run-around.

His precarious situation finally led him to his outburst on video last April 4, he said.

In another video, this time delivered in Ilocano, Andigos directly sought the help of labor secretary Silvestre Bello III who is an Ilagan City, Isabela town mate.

He said he wishes to be repatriated to the Philippines and be given his benefits as an OFW unjustly fired from his job.

Andigos said he dreams of finally holding her three-year old daughter in his arms. He left for Saudi Arabia while her newly-wed wife was pregnant with their child. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

COVID: Distressed OFWs in Saudi Arabia seek PH gov’t help

A group of distressed female overseas Filipino workers in Damman, Saudi Arabia is seeking the Philippine government’s help to be repatriated after their employer stopped paying for their salaries since the corona virus lockdown has been imposed in the Kingdom last March 17.

In a video sent to Kodao by a Migrante International member, the workers also asked for food and other relief items as they grapple with what they described as “very difficult conditions.”

In an online interview, the group said that since they have posted their first video online, their employer got angry with them and even tried to block donations of personal hygiene items sent them by concerned individuals.

The OFWs said they have been kept within the confines of their dormitory since the lockdown started.

The group said they were recruited in the Philippines by Mission Way Manpower Agency that said they would be working for the Al-Ajeer Recruitment Company that in turn deployed them to Noura Foundation for house-school-hospital cleaning duties.

They added that they also worry for their families in the Philippines who rely on their remittances especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

The distressed OFWs call on the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office for help.

“We are no longer safe here,” the group told Kodao. # (Report by Raymund B. Villanueva/Video subtitling by Jek Alcaraz/Video by the OFWs)

INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS WHO WISH TO HELP AND CONTACT THE GROUP MAY CALL ANNALYN LABANON (0542588065) OR MARY JANE MARFIL (0591511439)

OFWs in peril in Saudi-Yemen war, Migrante warns

A Filipino migrant group warned that thousands of Filipinos are facing danger after Yemeni Houthi fighters fired missiles at an airport in Abha, Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

Migrante International said that it may already be unsafe for close to 36,000 overseas Filipino workers to be airlifted to safety after Houthi fighters again targeted Abha’s Najran airport with missiles.

Migrante International photo.

Migrante said the Rodrigo Duterte government in the Philippines failed to put in place contingency measures to assist OFWs working in southwest Saudi Arabia close to the Yemeni border.

“Now that airports and control towers are being targeted, it will no longer be safe for Filipinos to be airlifted to safety from these regions,” Migrante said in a statement Thursday.

Migrante said that the Philippine consulate in Jeddah lists about 15,000 Filipinos work in Jizan and 7,850 are in Najran.

It added that in the Asir region, there are 13,000 OFWs in the city of Khamis Mushayt alone.

The city is close to the King Khalid Air Base which earlier suffered airstrikes from Yemeni fighters.

“We are outraged that the Duterte administration remains stone-deaf in hearing our calls to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia as the Philippine government displays the same ineptitude it has shown during the previous outbreak of armed conflict in Libya, Iraq and Syria,” Migrante said in its statement.

The group accused the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs of merely re-echoing “almost the same consulate advisory issued by its office in Jeddah last month.”

“In light of reports from Saudi authorities on the interception of two alleged Houthi ballistic missiles over Taif, one heading toward Makkah and the other toward Jeddah, on Monday morning, 20 May 2019, the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wishes to advise our kababayans in the city and its neighboring areas to remain calm but vigilant for any eventualities,” the Consulate said in its Public Advisory No. 44.

“Will the government wait once more for thousands of Filipinos to be caught up in the deadliest last minute before it even lifts a finger?” Migrante asked.

The group said signs of escalation in the fighting have been clear but the Duterte government “wasted several weeks” in merely campaigning for its senatorial candidates in the region.

“This vile apathy demonstrates how much weight the Duterte government places on its lust for power than looking after the welfare of imperilled OFWs,” Migrante said.

Migrante again called on the Duterte government to ensure that concrete actions are already in place to readily assist OFWs in need of immediate evacuation in all locations of Saudi Arabia within missile range.

“It should draw lessons from similar periods in the past when it only responded upon the moment when lives have already been lost,” it said.

The fighting in the Arabian Peninsula escalated March 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states intervened and backed the Yemeni government against the Shiite Houthis, bitter rivals of the Saudi Sunnis.

The United Nations earlier said that as many as 50,000 may have already been killed in the Saudi-led and US-backed war in Yemen in the past four years.

Recently, however, Houthis had been firing ballistic missiles deep into Saudi territory that signify the escalation of conflict where tens of thousands of OFWs are stationed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)