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The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs has announced it is working with Saudi authorities in relation to the case of an overseas worker allegedly forced to drink household bleach by her employer.
The abuse case is the latest to make headlines in the Gulf region after the Philippines banned its workers from being deployed to Kuwait in February over the mistreatment of workers.
Agnes Mancilla was rushed unconscious to King Fahad Central Hospital in Jizan, southwestern Saudi Arabia, on April 2 by concerned members of the Filipino community, according to the statement on April 16.
The female employer is alleged to have forced Mancilla to ingest the bleach, which was removed from her stomach through a laparotomy procedure. Doctors also found burn marks on her back, the department said.
She remains in a serious but stable condition, according to the statement.
“We would like to assure our kababayans that we are working closely with authorities in Jizan to make sure that justice will be given to Agnes Mancilla,” consul general Edgar Badajos said.
He added that consulate officials had visited Mancilla in hospital and authorities in Jizan to file charges against her employer, who was later arrested.
The Philippines consul pledged to regularly send representatives to follow up on the case with police and monitor the worker’s condition.
The Department of Foreign Affairs alleges Mancilla’s employer had repeatedly physically abused her since she arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2016. It also accused the employer of not paying her wages.
The working conditions of the more than two million Filipinos employed in the Middle East have come under the spotlight in recent months following several instances of abuse highlighted by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Philippine government banned its workers from being deployed to Kuwait in February after the body of a maid was found in an apartment freezer more than a year after she was murdered.
Joanna Demafelis’ two employers, a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife, were sentenced in absentia to death by hanging by a Kuwait court this month, according to reports.
Philippine labour officials are now working with their Kuwaiti counterparts on a new agreement regulating working conditions for domestic staff.
Among Duterte’s requirements are that workers will have the right to retain phones and passports and to refuse being transferred to other employers.