Filipino Group Linked to Alleged Scam Explains Activities to Embassy
JEDDAH, 16 September 2006 — SMPII, the Filipino group in Riyadh that
had been linked to an alleged scam, has denied allegations of
wrongdoing and is seeking to “reconcile” with a community leader its
members had threatened, according to the Philippine Embassy.
Consul General Nestor N. Padalhin, chargé d’affaires of the embassy,
said leaders of the group sought a meeting with him last Sunday to
explain what they are doing and to intervene in their “quarrel with
Asuncion was the subject of threats and harassment by callers
claiming to be SMPII members when he warned in his column in Pinoy
Xtra, the Filipino language supplement of Arab News, against an
apparent scam targeting Filipinos.
SMPII stands for Sangguniang Masang Pilipino International (SMPII)
whose leader goes by the name Maj. Elpidio Tanaliga Jr., who carries
the title “commander in chief.”
Ambassador Padalhin said the group admitted offering to help their
members secure gun licenses with the Philippine National Police
(PNP) so that they can own guns when they go home. And they admitted
collecting membership fees, citing that others organizations do that
to cover their expenses.
“But they denied conducting military trainings for Filipino workers
in Riyadh and promising members that they would be entitled to
privileges when they go home,” Padalhin narrated in a phone
interview with Arab News on Wednesday. “They also informed the
embassy that they have suspended their activities.”
He said the group showed documents supposedly attesting that they
were not using the PNP logo, as earlier reported in Arab News, even
as they reiterated that they were accredited by the PNP’s Police
Community Relations Group (PCRG) and Internal Affairs Service.
Padalhin said the group assured the embassy that they meant well and
that their reason for being is to “help fellow Filipinos around the
globe, support the needs of the unfortunate OFWs, and assist in
maintaining peace and order.”
One of the documents reportedly shown by the SMPII leaders was a
certificate of recognition by the embassy during the time of
Ambassador Bahnarim A. Guinomla.
The other documents showed that the SMPII did refer cases of
distressed Filipinos to the embassy and that “they also wrote thank
you letters” to the embassy for acting on their referrals.
At that point, Padalhin said, he told them that a certificate of
recognition or an accreditation is not a license to do anything
illegal. “I reminded that that we are guests here (in the Kingdom)
and we are obliged to follow the rules of the host country,” he said.
Padalhin bristled at suggestions by some members of the Filipino
community that the embassy was not doing anything to openly denounce
the alleged SMPII scam before more OFWs become victims.
“It’s not true that I’m being complacent about this SMPII issue. As
a matter of fact, I have already made a report to Manila and the
home office (Department of Foreign Affairs) had already replied,”
In a letter to Arab News, he also said, “…As soon as the Embassy
received the complaints from OFWs, it immediately made consultations
with the Office of Intelligence and Security Services of the DFA.
Consultation with the Department is not passing the buck but rather
the Embassy being a government entity cannot take independent action
especially on sensitive issues involving its nationals.”
“…the Philippine Embassy is not afraid to perform its mandate; to
assume otherwise is presumptuous,” the letter added.
In e-mail exchanges, other community members also challenged the
embassy to show its authority by confiscating the IDs and other
paraphernalia bearing the PNP seal or logo that the issued by SMPII
issued to its recruits.
Some wondered why the envoy readily believed the SMPII leaders when
they showed him certificates without the PNP logo and claimed that
they have stopped their activities. Padalhin said the embassy would
confiscate the IDs once it gets an authority from the PNP or
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Manila to do
“The IDs were not issued by the embassy and the PNP has admitted
that the group is accredited with its units. So we have to seek
authority from them,” he explained, citing interdepartmental
As for the advisory being sought by other OFWs, he said that would
come once the embassy gets a clearance from the DFA. He said the
home office has replied to his report to say that the DFA
Intelligence office has requested the DILG and PNP to verify the
status of SMPII.
Meanwhile, Alex Asuncion said if the SMPII leaders want
reconciliation, they should apologize to the people they have
allegedly misled with their promises.
“Kung meron man silang mga kinolekta bukod sa membership fee sa mga
na-recruit nila, dapat lang nilang ibalik ang mga ito sapagkat isang
lantarang pagsasamantala `yan (They ought to return whatever amount
they have collected from their recruits because that’s plain
opportunism,” he said.
Asuncion explained that what he was only replying in his column to a
query from a letter writer seeking guidance about the alleged scam.
The threats against Asuncion triggered a backlash from his
colleagues in the V-Team, a group of volunteers in the Kingdom who
are helping distressed Filipino workers, and others who were alarmed
by the alleged scam.
September 16, 2006