RED TAPE, CONFUSION DELAYING REBUILDING EFFORTS IN TACLOBAN

Six months after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated Tacloban City, not a single permanent housing unit has been built by the national government. City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said "red tape" is slowing down the rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts of the government, headed by former Senator Panfilo Lacson. "The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and other international groups sila nga pinagkatiwalaan kami. Kami nga may mandate na. We can work in partnership with the United Nations. Talagang may red tape and confusion," Romualdez said, stressing that the national government should already download to the local government the cash donations from international and local groups. "If they downloaded the money to us, matagal nang tapos. People need the shelter, people need safety," the mayor added. Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Fernandez, meanwhile, urged the national government to "empower the local government." "The national government should empower the local. They have the structure,network, man power. We're still here, but we will have a long way to go. Empower the local and we will get there," the congressman said. The city government said that a total of 4,853 temporary housing units and 14,433 permanent housing units are needed for the city's typhoon-affected population. It said that of the total temporary houses needed, 1,000 units have been committed by donors. Of the permanent housing needed, 1,233 have been committed through memoranda of agreement and 5,600 units have been pledged by various groups. The city government said a total of P3,358,590,200 (P3.35 billion) would be needed for the construction of the remaining units -- 3,853 temporary houses and 7,600 permanent houses -- plus shelter kits. The computation was based on an estimated amount for the construction of the housing units -- P200,000 for each permanent houses and P40,000 for each temporary units. As of May, the national government said that it already has received a pledge of P11,076,885,571.39 (P11.076 billion) in cash donations. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Thursday that as of May 14, the government has already released P32.2 billion for infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction in devastated areas. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace blames donors for slow ‘Yolanda’ rehab

The government blamed the lethargic pace of reconstruction work in communities devastated by supertyphoon “Yolanda” six months ago to the supposedly slow delivery of committed funds by foreign donors. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said about P11 billion worth of cash and P23 billion worth of in-kind donations were pledged for the Yolanda victims and the rehabilitation of Eastern Visayas but only P15 billion has arrived and most of these are in kind. “In some countries it’s understandable (that the aid for Yolanda victims have not been released) because some have to go to their legislatures, they have their own bureaucracies,” he said. The Palace, however, insisted yesterday the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) continues to release rehabilitation funds.
Legislators earlier had complained they had not received any assistance from the national government to speed up the recovery of the Yolanda-hit areas. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said that the fund intended for local government units (LGUs) hit by the tyhpoon and affected public schools, state colleges and universities, remained undelivered. “According to DBM, the release of funds for the areas affected by typhoon Yolanda continues,” Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said on radio yesterday.
She claimed personally witnessing the recent release of P32 billion by the DBM in mid-May for post calamity efforts.
Valte also mentioned the DBM’s continuing appropriations for the Department of Health (DOH) in Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center.READ MORE...

ALSO: Senator paints grim energy shortage in 2015

A political ally of President Aquino in the Senate has blamed the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the current energy shortage nationwide, saying it did not move strongly on the energy sector. “But we will have a bigger shortage next summer in 2015. Yan po kasalanan ni (President) Benigno Aquino (III) because they did not do enough, the major problem that is manifested is the lack of power,” Sen. Sergio R. Osmeña III, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said. Although he is a political ally of President Aquino, Osmeña described the President as a “bad manager” for having appointed former Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla as Department of Energy (DoE) secretary who is a politician and is tagged as a “part-time secretary.” While Metro Manila had a brief brownout last week that did not occur in key areas such as the financial district of Makati City, but Luzon’s power supply is tenuous at best, he said. He cited last week’s thin reserve power of only 250 megawatts (MWs) although the needed maximum reserve power supply is 2,500 MWs. “Because of the (old) age of our (power generating) plants, the likelihood of (their) breaking down is more,” he added. “We need a reserve of 25 percent based on the age of our plants. If the total peak demand is 8,700 MWs, then we need (reserves of) about 2,500 MWs,” he said. As both the Arroyo and Aquino administrations have not put up adequate number of new power plants within a four- to five-year construction cycle or rehabilitate aging power plants to face increasing demand by industries and an increasing population, the country, particularly Mindanao and the Visayas, is now skating on thin ice, he pointed out. READ MORE...

(ALSO) Marcos: Where are rehab funds, master plan?

The national government has no overall rehabilitation and reconstruction plan for the Yolanda-stricken provinces and has yet to account for the P120-billion funding appropriated by Congress and the P35 billion donated by foreign countries that were all not received by the local governments, almost seven months after the super typhoon leveled the Visayas provinces. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Mayor Alfred Romualdez said in a news conference that Yolanda survivors in Leyte are still in an “emergency situation,” particularly those who remain in tent cities, evacuation centers and ill-equipped bunkhouses. They were left homeless and without relief goods after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) decided to stop the distribution of relief goods in March, claiming the survivors had to be helped to get back on their feet by providing them jobs and livelihood. “The relief goods stopped coming, they were left to rot instead in the warehouses but the promised jobs and livelihood projects never came,” Marcos said. “The relief operations up to now are being spearheaded by foreign donors and the foreign and local firms or the private sector,” he added. READ MORE...

ALSO: Metro Manila sizzles on hottest day , 39.8 degrees

Residents of Metro Manila suffered another sweltering day on Saturday as the mercury reached 36.7 degree Celsius, the hottest temperature recorded in the metropolis this year. It surpassed the 36.6 degrees Celsius registered on May 19, Fernando Cada, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, told INQUIRER.net. Cada said the temperature was recorded 1:50 p.m. at the Science Garden Station in Quezon City. Pagasa expects Metro Manila temperatures to remain high due to the existence of “a ridge of high pressure area,” he said. The hottest day in the country this year, he said, was recorded at 39.8 degrees Celsius in Tuguegarao City. But the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Philippines was on May 11, 1969, when mercury reached 42.2 degrees Celsius in Tuguegarao City. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Filipina scalded by employer waited 3 hours before getting help in Riyadh

An overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia was in tears as she recounted how for three hours she suffered in excruciating pain after her employer scalded her with boiling water.
Pahima “Candies” Alagasi Palacasi in a radio interview on Saturday said she was even more bothered that her mother’s blood pressure might shoot up hearing the news about her in the oil-rich Islamic kingdom. “”Yong nanay ko po, nag-aalala ako sa kanila kasi may high-blood siya (I’m worried about my mother who has high-blood pressure),” a crying Palacasi said in a phone interview.
Palacasi first received attention when her cousin posted photos of her burnt skin on Facebook, triggering an uproar among netizens who called for justice. The migrant worker, who was working as a domestic helper in Riyadh, said she dropped the cap of the water heater when she was making coffee for her employer. That was when her irritated female employer doused her with boiling water, Palacasi said. “Hindi ko po siya nakita sa likod ko. Kinuha niya po ‘yong tubig na mainit, tapos bigla po niya binuhos sa akin (I didn’t see her from behind. She threw the boiling water on me),” Palacasi said. After scalding her, the employer just went to her room leaving Palacasi in pain, the househelp from North Cotabato said. “Lumabas po siya sa kusina, pumasok sa kwarto niya at pinabayaan lang po ako (She went outside the kitchen then went to her room, leaving me),” she said. Her cries for help went unnoticed, Palacasi said.READ MORE...


Read Full Stories here:

'Red tape, confusion' delaying rebuilding efforts in Tacloban


A permanent housing community being built by GMA-7's foundation in Tacloban City.

MANILA, MAY 26, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Angelo L. Gutierrez -Six months after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated Tacloban City, not a single permanent housing unit has been built by the national government.

City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said "red tape" is slowing down the rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts of the government, headed by former Senator Panfilo Lacson.

"The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and other international groups sila nga pinagkatiwalaan kami. Kami nga may mandate na. We can work in partnership with the United Nations. Talagang may red tape and confusion," Romualdez said, stressing that the national government should already download to the local government the cash donations from international and local groups.

"If they downloaded the money to us, matagal nang tapos. People need the shelter, people need safety," the mayor added.

Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Fernandez, meanwhile, urged the national government to "empower the local government."

"The national government should empower the local. They have the structure,network, man power. We're still here, but we will have a long way to go. Empower the local and we will get there," the congressman said.

The city government said that a total of 4,853 temporary housing units and 14,433 permanent housing units are needed for the city's typhoon-affected population.

It said that of the total temporary houses needed, 1,000 units have been committed by donors. Of the permanent housing needed, 1,233 have been committed through memoranda of agreement and 5,600 units have been pledged by various groups.

The city government said a total of P3,358,590,200 (P3.35 billion) would be needed for the construction of the remaining units -- 3,853 temporary houses and 7,600 permanent houses -- plus shelter kits.

The computation was based on an estimated amount for the construction of the housing units -- P200,000 for each permanent houses and P40,000 for each temporary units.

As of May, the national government said that it already has received a pledge of P11,076,885,571.39 (P11.076 billion) in cash donations.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Thursday that as of May 14, the government has already released P32.2 billion for infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction in devastated areas.

'Temporary, permanent'


Romualdez, meanwhile, said that another cause of delay in the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the government in the city is the word "temporary."

He said that the problem in the word "temporary" came up with the building of bunkhouses for the displace city residents.

"If you look at the bunkhouse [problem] it concerns policy. The announcement was we will not follow international standards, we will follow local standards," the mayor said.

The announcement came after several groups complained that the bunkhouses being built in Taclocan City and other areas devasated by Yolanda were substandard and the construction did not follow international standards.

However, the mayor explained that in following local standards, building temporary shelters would entail building permits from the Office of the Mayor.

"I need clearance from the Bureau of Fire for a fire clearance, then I can issue now an occupancy permit [but] they would not give us a fire clearance," he said.

To solve the problem, he said the government inserted the word "temporary" which was supposed to solve the problem in the process of building houses.

He further explained that since the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which is overseeing the construction of the bunkhouses, is not mandated to buy land "so we (the national government) we need the local government unit to buy land, but no LGU has enough to buy land."

The government then used the National Housing Authority to be able to buy land.

"But the NHA could not buy property for temporary shelters. So we are at a deadlock here now... How can you download money now?" Romualdez said

'Master plan'

Meanwhile, Romualdez said that the city government has already submitted a master plan to Lacson, who was appointed rehabilitation czar by President Aquino.

He said that in partnership with the UNDP and UN-Habitat or the United Nations Human Settlement Programme, the city government tapped the help of urban planners to create the master plan.

Romualdez said that Lacson has called for a meeting on May 29 to 30 in Cebu City to discuss the master plan with the city government and other LGUs affected by the super typhoon.

In the master plan, he said they suggested the elimination of the 40-meter no build zone policy, which is being implemented by the national government in Tacloban City and other areas.

"That is the wrong measure," Romualdez said, adding that the policy is just a knee-jerk response by the national government that is sending a wrong message to the public.

He said that according to the urban planners tapped to create the master plan, the measurement should be "the height or level of the land compared to the level of the sea. Not the distance of the shore to the land."

FROM THE DAILY TRIBUNE

Palace blames donors for slow ‘Yolanda’ rehab Written by Tribune Monday, 26 May 2014 00:00


ABAD

The government blamed the lethargic pace of reconstruction work in communities devastated by supertyphoon “Yolanda” six months ago to the supposedly slow delivery of committed funds by foreign donors.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said about P11 billion worth of cash and P23 billion worth of in-kind donations were pledged for the Yolanda victims and the rehabilitation of Eastern Visayas but only P15 billion has arrived and most of these are in kind.

“In some countries it’s understandable (that the aid for Yolanda victims have not been released) because some have to go to their legislatures, they have their own bureaucracies,” he said.

The Palace, however, insisted yesterday the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) continues to release rehabilitation funds.

Legislators earlier had complained they had not received any assistance from the national government to speed up the recovery of the Yolanda-hit areas.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said that the fund intended for local government units (LGUs) hit by the tyhpoon and affected public schools, state colleges and universities, remained undelivered.

“According to DBM, the release of funds for the areas affected by typhoon Yolanda continues,” Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said on radio yesterday.

She claimed personally witnessing the recent release of P32 billion by the DBM in mid-May for post calamity efforts.

Valte also mentioned the DBM’s continuing appropriations for the Department of Health (DOH) in Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center.

The DBM’s releases include P2.2 billion for National Housing Authority (NHA), P2.01 billion to the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) for the rehabilitation of municipal halls, public markets, civic centers, and police stations.

Calamity funds under the General Appropriations Act funded the initiatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), she said.

With regards to the rehabilitation of the state universities and colleges affected by the typhoon, Valte said the Palace will coordinate with DBM just to get the data on releases for the repair and rehabilitation of school buildings.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. added there is no “red tape” in the release of rehabilitation funds.

Coloma was reacting to the statement of Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez saying that red tape has been slowing down rehabilitation efforts in the capital city.

Romualdez insisted there was red tape and confusion with the national government’s release of funds (including cash donations from international and local groups) to calamity-hit local government units.

“We are following a policy. First, the creation of post-disaster needs assessment because this is the policy under the law—the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act,” Coloma said.

Coloma said that Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson himself said that a plan has been developed for provinces affected by Yolanda.

Coloma further noted that the government will continue to live up to its mandate of addressing the needs of those affected by Yolanda which wreaked havoc to most part of the Visayas Region in November last year.

He added the World Bank said the rehabilitation of the typhoon “Yolanda”-ravaged areas is on the right track.

Among the heavily affected areas from the typhoon were Leyte, Western Samar, and Tacloban City.

“If there are critics, they should study the basis of what they have been saying,” Coloma added.

The World Bank is the lead multilateral institution that is helping the Philippines with the Rehabilitation Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) last May 16, a Cabinet meeting was held for the master plan of the rehabilitation of the areas affected by typhoon Yolanda. The Cabinet will reconvene again before the end of the month to tackle the progress of the rehabilitation efforts and get updates on the implementation of the master plan.

Abad said the first six months of rehabilitation is understandably slow because of the scale of devastation and because the main workers are typhoon victims themselves.

”I think after six months things have moved even faster already because the first responders as well as the various national and international agencies have really come together and able to coordinate very well and respond to the requirements of the reconstruction. So I think you’re going to see a lot of that movement,” he said.

Abad said “an important point has to be made – by putting all of these information in FAITH, which is the foreign aid hub, we’re able to correct some misinformation.”

According to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAITH), total cash donations for “Yolanda” victims and the rehabilitation of the affected provinces reached P11.08 billion while non-cash pledge totalled to nearly P23 billion. Foreign aid received, on the other hand, amounted to nearly P15 billion.

By aid type, he said the bulk of identified pledges is accounted for by relief goods amounting to P4.08 billion followed by financial aid, P2.58 billion; for education and school buildings, a little over P1 billion; humanitarian assistance, P914.18 million; and rehabilitation and reconstruction, P872.54 million.

The others include those for livelihood, health and medical care, military assets and equipment, humanitarian assistance for the workers, equipment, sanitation, and medical supplies.

Abad also said that most of these aid did not go directly to the government but to the organizations that the foreign donors chose as implementers.

These organizations include the United Nations (UN), Red Cross and non-government organizations (NGOs).
Abad cited that the UN, for one, received about $800 million donations for the “Yolanda” victims.

He said this amount is the highest so far that the organization received “because of the scale of destruction.”

He added that more donations are still not accounted for because they were coursed through private organizations that have their own aid program in the devastated areas.

FROM MANILA DAILY BULLETIN

Senator paints grim energy shortage in 2015 by Mario Casayuran
May 24, 2014 (updated)

Manila, Philippines — A political ally of President Aquino in the Senate has blamed the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the current energy shortage nationwide, saying it did not move strongly on the energy sector.

“But we will have a bigger shortage next summer in 2015. Yan po kasalanan ni (President) Benigno Aquino (III) because they did not do enough, the major problem that is manifested is the lack of power,” Sen. Sergio R. Osmeña III, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said.

Although he is a political ally of President Aquino, Osmeña described the President as a “bad manager” for having appointed former Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla as Department of Energy (DoE) secretary who is a politician and is tagged as a “part-time secretary.”

While Metro Manila had a brief brownout last week that did not occur in key areas such as the financial district of Makati City, but Luzon’s power supply is tenuous at best, he said.

He cited last week’s thin reserve power of only 250 megawatts (MWs) although the needed maximum reserve power supply is 2,500 MWs.

“Because of the (old) age of our (power generating) plants, the likelihood of (their) breaking down is more,” he added.

“We need a reserve of 25 percent based on the age of our plants. If the total peak demand is 8,700 MWs, then we need (reserves of) about 2,500 MWs,” he said.

As both the Arroyo and Aquino administrations have not put up adequate number of new power plants within a four- to five-year construction cycle or rehabilitate aging power plants to face increasing demand by industries and an increasing population, the country, particularly Mindanao and the Visayas, is now skating on thin ice, he pointed out.

Luzon, according to Osmeña, lacks 2,000 MWs because several plants have no expected completion dates of repairs such as Sta. Rita (260 MWs), Malaya One (300 MWs), Malaya 2 ((350 MWs), Limay (60 MWs), and Pagbilao (375 MWs). Calaca is also bracketed in the same situation.

Should one power plant go out of commission, this means that Luzon, particularly Metro Manila, would have power shortages, Osmeña said.

The “unattended” power sector “is one of the reasons we are not getting enough foreign investments,” he pointed out.

“Between you and me, we don’t know exactly what’s happening in the energy sector,” he said, adding big investors look 25 years ahead because they put up big factories and they have to get a return of their investments back.

He also said that government has to put up roads for expensive geothermal exploration projects of domestic and foreign investors who may lose $50 million for such business ventures.

“That is why we cannot fully utilize our geothermal potentials until government puts up the infrastructure in place. And such expenditures should be in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),” he added.

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Marcos: Where are rehab funds, master plan? By Christine F. Herrera, Ronald O. Reyes and Joyce Pangco-Pañares | May. 24, 2014 at 12:01am


Reality check. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, cousins to each other, brief the media on the situation in the disaster-stricken Eastern Visayas region where people continue to suffer in silence because of the slow pace of government rehabilitation. EY ACASIO

TACLOBAN CITY – The national government has no overall rehabilitation and reconstruction plan for the Yolanda-stricken provinces and has yet to account for the P120-billion funding appropriated by Congress and the P35 billion donated by foreign countries that were all not received by the local governments, almost seven months after the super typhoon leveled the Visayas provinces.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Mayor Alfred Romualdez said in a news conference that Yolanda survivors in Leyte are still in an “emergency situation,” particularly those who remain in tent cities, evacuation centers and ill-equipped bunkhouses.

They were left homeless and without relief goods after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) decided to stop the distribution of relief goods in March, claiming the survivors had to be helped to get back on their feet by providing them jobs and livelihood.

“The relief goods stopped coming, they were left to rot instead in the warehouses but the promised jobs and livelihood projects never came,” Marcos said.

“The relief operations up to now are being spearheaded by foreign donors and the foreign and local firms or the private sector,” he added.

“Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said some P32.2 billion meant for the Yolanda-struck provinces had already been released. Where is the money? How come the LGUs did not receive any? How come we didn’t see it here? The people never felt it. Where are the foreign donations that were coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs and passed on to DSWD?” Marcos asked.

But in a separate interview, rehabilitation czar and former Senator Panfilo Lacson clarified that the P32 billion that has been released by the Department of Budget and Management was primarily for relief operations and not yet for reconstruction.

Lacson said the massive reconstruction could not yet begin because the P106 billion Post Disaster Needs Assessment was only submitted by the Office of the Civil Defense last week. He added that the localized rehabilitation plans of LGUs are also still being vetted.

So far, only the provinces of Cebu, Leyte, Western Samar, and Eastern Samar, as well as Tacloban City, have submitted their local rehabilitation plans.

“The target is that by May 30, these local rehab plans will be signed. These are just being vetted to we can avoid double-counting for the needs that have already been met,” he said.

He also denied that relief operations in Tacloban City have stopped.

“Relief operations are ongoing - distribution of relief goods and cash for work, among others. These will overlap once we begin the massive reconstruction,” Lacson said.

Marcos, meanwhile, said even President Benigno Aquino III’s allies and partymates in the Liberal Party had been complaining about not receiving any help from the national government.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on Local Government, added that until now the funds that were intended to go to the LGUs hit by the typhoon and even to the affected public schools, state colleges and universities remained undelivered.

Marcos and Rep. Romualdez said the DSWD should not discontinue the delivery of relief goods for the victims because many of them remain jobless and could not provide for their families after business establishments failed to reopen after the devastation.

Of the 15,000 private firms, only 3,000 reapplied for permits to reopen, Mayor Romualdez said.

He said at least 50 percent of the city’s income had been lost and he had to allow businessmen to defer payment of taxes to help them get back on their feet.

“Nobody wants to be receiving charity forever, but since the livelihood has not begun to function on the ground, that (relief operation) has to be extended,” Marcos said.

Marcos attributed the slow distribution of assistance to the government’s lack of a sense of urgency to solve the problem.

“The national government, with its bureaucratic red tape, is treating the needed rehabilitation and reconstruction projects as regular government projects instead of thinking that this is an emergency,” Marcos said.

Since the DSWD is behind government’s regular dole-out program, Romualdez said it should concentrate on the distribution of resources to Yolanda victims.

Marcos and Romualdez, however, lauded the efforts of presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery (PARR) Secretary Panfilo Lacson Jr.

FROM PHILSTAR

Metro Manila sizzles on hottest day By Nestor Corrales INQUIRER.net 5:57 pm | Saturday, May 24th, 2014


Photo by NOY MORCOSO lll/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Residents of Metro Manila suffered another sweltering day on Saturday as the mercury reached 36.7 degree Celsius, the hottest temperature recorded in the metropolis this year. It surpassed the 36.6 degrees Celsius registered on May 19, Fernando Cada, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, told INQUIRER.net.

Cada said the temperature was recorded 1:50 p.m. at the Science Garden Station in Quezon City. Pagasa expects Metro Manila temperatures to remain high due to the existence of “a ridge of high pressure area,” he said.

The hottest day in the country this year, he said, was recorded at 39.8 degrees Celsius in Tuguegarao City.

But the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Philippines was on May 11, 1969, when mercury reached 42.2 degrees Celsius in Tuguegarao City.

Filipina scalded by employer waited three hours before getting help in Riyadh By Marc Jayson Cayabyab INQUIRER.net 7:51 pm | Saturday, May 24th, 2014


Photos of 22-year old Pahima “Candies” Alagasi, who suffered second degree burns after her employer poured boiling water on her, went viral online after her cousin posted them on Facebook.

MANILA, Philippine—An overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia was in tears as she recounted how for three hours she suffered in excruciating pain after her employer scalded her with boiling water.

Pahima “Candies” Alagasi Palacasi in a radio interview on Saturday said she was even more bothered that her mother’s blood pressure might shoot up hearing the news about her in the oil-rich Islamic kingdom.

“”Yong nanay ko po, nag-aalala ako sa kanila kasi may high-blood siya (I’m worried about my mother who has high-blood pressure),” a crying Palacasi said in a phone interview.

Palacasi first received attention when her cousin posted photos of her burnt skin on Facebook, triggering an uproar among netizens who called for justice.

The migrant worker, who was working as a domestic helper in Riyadh, said she dropped the cap of the water heater when she was making coffee for her employer.

That was when her irritated female employer doused her with boiling water, Palacasi said.

“Hindi ko po siya nakita sa likod ko. Kinuha niya po ‘yong tubig na mainit, tapos bigla po niya binuhos sa akin (I didn’t see her from behind. She threw the boiling water on me),” Palacasi said.

After scalding her, the employer just went to her room leaving Palacasi in pain, the househelp from North Cotabato said.

“Lumabas po siya sa kusina, pumasok sa kwarto niya at pinabayaan lang po ako (She went outside the kitchen then went to her room, leaving me),” she said.

Her cries for help went unnoticed, Palacasi said.

“N’ung hindi ko na kinaya ‘yung sakit at init sa katawan, natumba po ako. Tapos humihingi po ako ng tulong sa kanya, hindi po niya ako natulungan (I fell down when I could no longer bear the pain in my body. I asked help from her but she did not offer any help),” she said.

In fact, Palacasi said she had to wait for three hours in her room crying before she was taken to the hospital by her employers.

“Pumunta po ako sa kwarto ko, umiyak na lang po ako ‘dun kasi wala nga po nakakatulong sa akin. Mga three hours pa bago ako dinala sa clinic (I went to my room and cried because nobody would help me. I was brought to the clinic after three hours),” she said.

Even Palacasi could not fathom how she endured the pain that long.

“Hindi ko nga alam bakit ko nakayanan ang ganoong kasakit na tatlong oras bago ako dinala ng clinic (I also don’t know how I endured that pain for three hours before being brought to the clinic),” Palacasi said.

She sustained second-degree burns and was brought to a small clinic where a Filipina nurse treated her. It was the Filipina nurse who contacted Palacasi’s sister.

This was not the first time Palacasi was maltreated by her employers.

She said she was constantly being beaten up by her employer, supposedly because she could not focus on her work for being homesick.

“Kasi nga po nahohomesick ako tapos gusto ko po tumawag sa pamilya ko. Ayaw po nila (I feel homesick and when I want to call my family they wouldn’t allow me to,” she said.

Palacasi now fears never being able to go back home to the Philippines.

“Gustong gusto ko na po umuwi… Kinakatakot ko po na hindi na po ako makakauwi (I really want to go home… I’m afraid that I might not be able to do that anymore),” she said.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office has suspended the agency that recruited Palacasi.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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