It has been observed that for the past few days Government Officials that oversees OFW concerns made an unannounced visit to the Kingdom. A week ago DOLE Secretary Pat Sto. Tomas paid a short visit to the Kingdom via Geneva and OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque was also here at that time of her visit and came back a few days ago and presently still in the Kingdom.
This week I came to know that our beloved DFA Undersecretary on Special Concerns Rafael Seguis is here in the Kingdom unannounced too. Whatever their visit is all about, am sure it is an official and relevant to the issues and concerns for the welfare of our fellow Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.
Usec Rafael Seguis is not new to us, he was once a former Ambassador to the Kingdom and one of the prominent and outstanding negotiator for the released of our fellow kidnapped OFW victims in Iraq a year ago. As a former father of the OFW’s in the Kingdom, he knows exactly what he is doing, and I’m hoping whatever official visit he is into today; it would be a success.
Amidst political crisis in our country, we are thankful enough that our current government officials are here doing their job as what they are paid for. This is what we need from them. The Filipino community in the Kingdom needs special care, especially to those fellow OFW in distress, at least an assurance that there is hope and perhaps light at the end of the tunnel. I am referring to those comrades languishing in jails and to those facing death penalty.
As we all knew that we need to strengthen our foreign relations initiatives to the government of Saudi Arabia, in order for us to intensify access of protection for the rights of our fellow OFW’s in jail and those facing the death penalty; and likewise enhance the role of our Foreign Affairs Department.
Last February 25, 2006, our group (Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Mangagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia) submitted a position paper to the Honorable Members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs through the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) with the following recommendations:
1) Provide details of the legal proceedings to all pending cases especially to those with death penalties.
2) Ensure that Filipino Expatriate Workers in the Kingdom are guaranteed legal counsel and an interpreter immediately after arrest and in court.
3) Ensure that families of those arrested are immediately informed of the arrest of their relatives.
4) Guarantee that consulate or embassy staff are informed of any detention and allowed communication with them.
5) Relatives of OFW’s who have been executed are allowed to request repatriation of the human remains of their love ones to perform burial rituals in accordance with their religious or cultural traditions.
We continue to hope and pray that this recommendation must be given top most attention from our visiting Philippine government officials in the Kingdom. – BongA