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.
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.
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
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)