BY ROGER M. BALANZA
“The gates of Malacañang are always open and the ears of government officials will always listen to whatever problems our fellow Filipinos are experiencing.”
Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go made this assurance as Pahima Alagasi, the Filipina worker who suffered serious burns in Saudi Arabia, was brought home after a four-year legal battle against her employer in Saudi Arabia.
In an April 15 post on Facebook, Go, President Rodrigo Duterte’s top aide, said the government will continue to provide assistance to the Overseas Pilipino Worker (OFW).
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Alagasi was given PHP50,000 from the Assistance to Nationals fund of the agency, apart from an aid by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
“We in the government, are truly delighted in the favorable outcome of this case involving our kababayan Pahima Alagasi,” said Go in the post in a mix of Filipino and English.
Alagasi was only 22 years old and barely two months on the job when the mother of her employer scalded her back with boiling water after she dropped the lid of a thermos while preparing coffee.
She suffered severe burns on her neck, back and thighs, and was in pain for three hours before her employer allowed her to seek treatment.
Alagasi ran away while seeking treatment in a hospital and sought refuge in Bahay Kalinga, a shelter run by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.
She filed a maltreatment complaint against her employer, which was eventually dismissed by a Saudi prosecutor.
“Natutuwa po kami, lalong lalo na si Presidente Duterte, at natulungan ng Gobyerno si Pahima at naiuwi natin sya dito sa bansa at sa pamilya nya,” said Go, days after arriving with the President from Hainan, China where they attended the two-day Boao Forum for Asia.
The President’s party before going back to the Philippines also visited Hong Kong to meet with the Filipino community.
OFWs in the gathering cheered Go when President Duterte said that his top aide is running for Senator in the 2019 mid-term election.
“Patuloy po nating tutulungan ang mga kababayan nating OFWs, in any way we can assist them, be it a legal matter or be it labor and employer-related,” Go said in his Facebook post.
“Like we have always been saying, the gates of Malacañang are always open and the ears of government officials will always listen to whatever problems our fellow Filipinos are experiencing,” he said.