Monday, November 24, 2008

November 13, 2008

'Beheading awaits OFW in Jeddah road rage'

11/13/2008 09:12 PM

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who killed three Saudis in an apparent case of road rage last Tuesday is most likely to end up on death row, a group helping distressed Filipinos in the Saudi Arabia said on Thursday.

“Sa tingin ko, sa mga nailathala na testamento ng mga nakakita, subject for pugot-ulo ito lalo na’t tatlo ang namatay sa isang pamilya. Mahirap ito mapatawad [The way I see it, based on published accounts of witnesses, this case is subject to beheading, especially that the three fatalities are from one family.

It would not be easy (for the victims’ relatives) to forgive (the offender)]," said a leader of the group, who declined to be named.“Kahit sino sa mga kababayan dito ay hindi rin talaga magsisimpatiya sa mga ganitong uri ng driver, Filipino man o ibang lahi.

Sa case na ito nagkataon na mga Saudi ang namatay. Pero it could happen to anyone, any nationality (Even among our compatriots here, nobody would sympathize with such kind of driver, whether a Filipino or of a different nationality.

It so happened that the fatalities were Saudis, but it could happen to anyone)," said the community leader who is based in Riyadh.In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila, the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah on Thursday confirmed that the driver’s name is Rigor de Padua, 33 years old and a resident of Muntinlupa in southern Metro Manila.

He arrived in Jeddah only on Oct. 5 to work as a driver for a big company.As reported earlier by local media, an apparently distraught De Padua on Tuesday morning commandeered a bus carrying his co-workers at the Saudi Catering from the company compound in Jeddah and drove erratically along the busy Al Haramain thoroughfare.

The bus reportedly hit at least four other vehicles along the road before slamming into a white Toyota Corolla, killing the car’s three passengers instantly — a mother and her two daughters in their 20s.Before the incidentAs gathered by GMANews.TV from co-workers of De Padua, he appeared to have been emotionally unstable. He was reportedly a loner and was always quiet.

They later found out that he was depressed because his wife, with whom he has a daughter, had left him. To make matters worse, his supervisor supposedly threatened to send him home if he fails to get a driver’s license.At about 5 a.m. on Tuesday, he suddenly got up from his bed and started getting dressed.

They thought that he was just going for a jog but noticed that he got a hammer and a screw driver while crying. Later on, he started smashing the mirrors of their supervisor’s car, prompting his colleagues to alert security guards.

Security personnel came after him but he suddenly got on the company bus with 12 coworkers — including Nepalese, Bangladeshis and two Filipinos — on board. He reportedly drove the bus erratically, taking wide turns almost every chance he got.When the passengers pleaded with him to stop the bus, he replied that he would do so only if a fellow Filipino would talk with him.

He did let the other passengers jump off from the bus when the two Filipinos pleaded with him to slow down.After that, he again started driving wildly until the bus slammed into the sedan carrying three Saudi women.Unconfirmed reports on Thursday have it that a fourth victim died.

It could not be determined whether this was the driver of the sedan or one of the Filipino passengers of the bus.De Padua and the two Filipinos were also hurt from the impact of the collision, and some of the Bangladeshis and Nepalis were said to have suffered sprains and bruises when they jumped off the bus.

Legal rightsConsul General Ezzedine Tago, in his report to the home office, also confirmed that De Padua was being held at a detention center and under investigation.De Padua was arrested by the police after he was treated for injuries at a hospital.

DFA spokesperson Claro Cristobal said that the Philippine government has instructed the Consulate to assist De Padua and ensure that “his rights are respected protected throughout the process to establish the facts of the case and to determine culpability, if any." - GMANews.TV

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