OFW in Saudi Arabia forced to sleep outdoors after fleeing employer
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) here was forced to sleep outdoors near the ocean after he escaped from his employer.
In an exclusive interview with GMA News, Steve Gajelan said he left his employer after the employer forced him to work as a tile setter instead of a plumber, which was the job he applied for.
"Pinaalis ako bilang isang tubero pero pagdating ko dito sa establishment na papasukan ko ay pinagtrabaho po ako bilang isang tile setter," Gajelan said. "Mali po 'yun dahil hindi po ako marunong mag-tiles."
He also said his employer tried to make him pay for the tiles that he failed to install properly due to lack of experience.
"Doon po ako nagreklamo sa kanila dahil hindi naman po nararapat 'yun dahil hindi naman po 'yun ang trabaho ko," Gajelan said.
He added that his employer tried to have him evicted from his accommodation after learning that he has sought assistance from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) here. He said his employer has a brother who is a policeman.
Fearing his fate at the hands of the policeman, Gajelan said he escaped and was forced to live on the street, including near the sea, for days. He said a friend agreed to temporarily take custody of his belongings.
He said Philippine officials refused to let him stay at the Consulate due to the law disallowing male foreign workers from seeking temporary shelter in foreign posts.
Vice Consul RJ Sumague confirmed this, saying they have no choice but to follow the laws of the host country. He said they are now looking for ways to assist Gajelan in seeking for a temporary shelter and is already coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding this.
Wants to go home
Meanwhile, Gajelan said he already wants to go home to the Philippines, noting how worried his family is about him, particularly his father who is sick.
"Nagpunta po lamang ako dito para magtrabaho hindi po para gumawa ng gulo, pero ito po ang nangyari sa akin," he said. "Maraming tao na po akong nilapitan pero wala silang nagawa."
"Sana naririnig po ako ng ating gobyerno sa Pilipinas at matulungan ako," he added, teary-eyed.
At present, Gajelan is staying at a friend's accommodation but only at night. He, however, has to leave the place in the morning to avoid getting caught by authorities. —KBK, GMA News