By: Michelle Fe Santiago
Special to arabtimesonline
‘I’m Afraid My Employers May Take Me Back’
KUWAIT CITY, July 31: A Filipino household service worker who was allegedly maltreated by her Kuwaiti female employer jumped off the second floor of her employer’s house to escape further physical and verbal abuse.
Margie Pontillas, 33, a native of Carmen, Davao in Southern Philippines, can now barely move in her bed, in Ward 3 of Al Razi Orthopedic Hospital, due to a fractured right foot and sprained leg after jumping from the second floor on July 16. The bite marks of her employer’s teeth on her left arm have started to heal while her right forefinger – also bitten by her lady employer is still swollen. Her nose bore a small scar after her employer allegedly hit her with a laddle while bruises dotted her body.
“I’m still very thankful that I survived the ordeal. I just prayed and I’ve been always thinking of my five kids in the Philippines. What will happen to them if I die?” sobbed Margie who’s separated from her husband, as she told to the Arab Times on Tuesday what she had gone through at the hands of her female employer.
Pontillas arrived in Kuwait on February 2, 2011 and worked for a Kuwaiti household, but, after more than a year, she had to leave her first employer after they refused to grant her a salary advance for some emergency in the Philippines. She was returned to the agency and handed over to her second employer.
“I had no problem with my first employer except that they were not able to give me a salary advance to pay for the hospital expenses of my mother. I had no choice but to leave. When I was given to my second employer, my madam was good at first but changed later on when she and her husband had frequent fights prompting her husband to leave home and go to his first wife,” narrated Pontillas who has been with her second employer for only two months. She cited that on June 24, her male employer left home and took her with him to his first wife in Andalous. “He and his second wife patched things up so he returned on June 27 to the house in Abdullah Mubarak area and he also took me back with him. After our return, my madam changed and kept on hurling invectives at me which I endured but things got worse and she started hurting me on July 12,” she stated.
Pontillas recounted that her madam threw shoes and other hard objects at her. She tried to fight back but her madam was too big for her. “One time, my male employer tried to stop her and he got in between, but she jumped on me. My male employer also jumped in as did his other brother to stop us and I was under all of them. I couldn’t move anymore. I couldn’t breathe and then my madam bit my left arm and my right forefinger so hard they bled. I screamed as I felt her teeth sink into my skin … then she stopped biting me,” she stated.
Pontillas then had a chance to call her friend for help and the latter then called up the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labour Office to rescue Pontillas. “Someone from the POLO and Embassy called me up and they promised to help. I waited. Then I also called up 112, the police. I waited but no one came to help. So in the morning of July 16, I decided to jump out of the window. I dragged my broken right foot until a taxi driver who took pity on me,” she stated. She then asked the taxi to pass by her friend so she can accompany her to the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Jabriya. When she reached there, the POLO staff called an ambulance to take her to the Al Razi hospital.
Pontillas, after undergoing treatment, has been ready for discharged from the hospital since Sunday. She told the Arab Times that she’s afraid that her employers might take her back. “I’m appealing to the embassy and POLO-OWWA to please help me. A POLO staff named Fatima and an embassy staff named Mar visited me here only once and they never came back. Please take me now. I don’t want to go back to my former employer or be taken by the police,” she urged as tears welled in her eyes.
The Arab Times informed the Philippine Embassy and the POLO on Tuesday about the case of Pontillas which they acted on it immediately. “I have already asked our ATN Officer Mar Hassan to check on Margie Pontillas and arrange her discharge papers from the hospital,” disclosed the Assistance to Nationals Unit Head at the Embassy Dalidig Ibrahim Tanandato.
On the part of the POLO, Philippine Labour Attache David Des Dicang also instructed one of the POLO staff to pick up Pontillas at the hospital and bring her straight to the new Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) in Faiha. As of this report, Pontillas was waiting for the embassy and POLO staff to take her out of the hospital.