A Philippine official in Saudi Arabia encouraged Filipino victims of abuse there to speak out even in front of Saudi authorities, as they have the full support of the Philippine Consulate.
Vice Consul Alexander Estomo made the statement after a domestic helper allegedly retracted her claim that she was raped by her employer despite the assistance extended to her by the Consulate and even by her fellow OFWs.
"Sabihin na po nila sa amin ang katotohanan, ano ang kanilang pinagdadaanan at gagawin po ng konsulado ang lahat ng magagawa namin upang maresolba ang kanilang problema," Estomo, who heads the Philippine Consulate's Legal Assistance to Nationals (LATN) Section, said.
"'Pag andyan na po at tumugon na ang ating Konsulado sa kanilang suliranin o problema, lalo na kung nasa police station na sila, ay huwag sila matatakot na sabihin ang totoo sa police authorities o sa Konsulado man dahil obligasyon naman ng ating konsulado na protektahan talaga sila sa lahat ng panahon," he added.
Estomo, meanwhile, warned that falsification charges await Filipinos who will fabricate abuse stories in order to avail of the consulate's repatriation assistance.
Estomo said the domestic helper's retraction was unexpected. Ed, one of the OFWs who responded to the domestic helper's call for help, was likewise frustrated at the retraction.
“Sana huwag kang manggamit ng tao para sa sarili mo lang. Kung talagang kailangan mo ng tulong, tutulungan ka namin pero huwag naman kami pa ang ipapahamak mo sa bandang huli," he said.
The unnamed domestic helper reached out to fellow OFWs after her employer allegedly raped her and treated her like a "sex slave".
"Sumbong sa akin ng kasambahay na gusto raw niya makasuhan ang amo niya dahil ginawa raw siyang sex slave. Tapos gusto niya makauwi dahil hindi na raw niya kaya," Ed said.
He and other concerned OFWs immediately consulted with the Consulate regarding the domestic helper's case, which was immediately processed with the help of Saudi policemen.
Despite their efforts, the domestic helper wound up denying the confession she made to her fellow OFWs when she and her employer were presented to the police.
"Nagawan naman natin ng paraan na ma-present siya sa police station. Dinala siya ng employer, pinresent siya sa police authorities. 'Yun nga lang, nagulat na lang ang consulate na nung ini-interview na ang ating kababayan, hindi niya inamin sa atin, especially sa mga pulis, na mayroon nangyari sa bahay na kanyang pinagtatrabahuhan," Estomo said. —Ronaldo Concha and Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News