Author: 
Bien Custodio, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2007-02-16 03:00

RIYADH, 16 February 2007 — The relatives of a Filipino worker who went into a coma after being beaten by a gang of youngsters in Riyadh wants to see the victim.

Antonio Oralde, a 26-year-old worker of the ChickenPlus fastfood restaurant in Riyadh’s Al-Rayan District, had been declared “brain dead” since he was brought to the Riyadh Care Hospital last week. Reports gathered by the Philippine Embassy said Oralde was delivering broast chicken ordered by a group of youngsters who were across the parking lot when the attack happened.

Gina Oralde, the eldest of the patient’s three sisters, said they are seeking the Philippine Embassy’s help to plead with her brother’s employer to bring one of the victim’s sisters to Riyadh to be with him before he expires.

“We are asking for the mercy of the employer,” Gina told Arab News by phone on Wednesday from their home in Cavite, south of Manila. Gina said her brother, although the youngest in a brood of four, had been very supportive of his siblings. Their parents are both dead.

She said their brother was paying the rent for their youngest sister’s apartment in Mariano Alvarez town in Cavite.

Gina confirmed that she and her sisters have rejected a request to donate the organs of their brother to a charity group, saying they are still not giving up on him.

Ambassador Antonio Villamor earlier stopped discussions about the organ donation after learning of the decision of the victim’s family. “It’s now a non-issue since the family has decided against donating the organs,” he said.

Consul Romulo Victor Israel Jr., head of the embassy’s Assistance to Nationals Section (ANS), said the family’s decision has been relayed to the hospital.

Asked about Oralde’s chances of recovering, Dr. Ahmad Gamal Eldin Tammam, a neuro-surgeon attending to the patient, said: “His condition is not improving. We are giving him medication to keep his heart beating.”

Still, Labor Attaché Resty dela Fuente, after visiting Oralde at the hospital, said he was not giving up hope yet. “We Filipinos believe in the saying ‘habang may hininga, may pag-asa (there’s still hope as long as one is breathing).’”

Appeal to Witnesses

Embassy officials, meanwhile, appealed to anyone who had witnessed the crime to come out and help give justice to Oralde.

According to Attaché Rey Banda, police investigating the crime said no direct witnesses have come out so far.

Banda said he learned from the captain of the Al-Manar police station that a Syrian national claimed to have seen only the dumping of the victim, which turned out to be Oralde, on a roadside near the parking lot. “The witness neither saw nor recorded the plate number of the vehicle. The incident happened between 11:45 to 12 midnight. The body was dumped a block away from the restaurant where Oralde works,” Banda said.

Oralde’s co-workers said they came to know of his fate only when he did not return after 20 minutes. When the staff called his cell phone, it was a hospital worker who answered and told them that Oralde was at the RCH emergency room.

Embassy officials and police have ruled out robbery as motive for the attack, noting that the money and cell phone of Oralde was left untouched.

Members of the OFW-SOS Hotline, which first got wind of Oralde’s fate, theorized that Oralde was pulled into a car, beaten up and later dumped.

Earlier reports said the assailants may have tried to escape with the broasted chicken and that Oralde got tangled up with them and was dragged for some distance before he was thrown down.

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