Timely Assistance from PhilEmb led to the released of OFWs jailed for “illegal mixed Gatherings”
Riyadh, 24 August 2009 — Overseas Filipino Workers belong to filipino community organization, Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS) who were apprehended by Saudi authorities for illegal “mixed gathering” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has been released.
In an email received from John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East regional coordinator, that the “prostitution” case supposed to be filed by the Saudi police to 18 KGS members and run away distress OFWs arrested when the Saudi cultural police raided the KGS safe house last August 14 during the group’s welfare case assistance meeting, has not been filed and is now dropped by the Saudi police.
Monterona said, “the information was relayed by Eric Jocson, Chairperson of KGS, the local chapter of Migrante in Riyadh”. Eric Jocson were among of those arrested during the raid but was later released through the help of his employer.
The dropping of the case has also been confirmed by Vice Consul Roussel Reyes, saying that their case officers were able to convince the Police that there is no “prostitution” as those apprehended are members of legitimate OFW organization providing assistance to distress and run away OFWs.
The Filipino community in Riyadh commended the immediate intervention of the Philippine Embassy and to Ambassador Antonio Villamor who directed Assistance to National Section (ANS) headed by Vice Consul Reyes to act on the case immediately. The timely assistance of the Philippine Embassy lead to the dropping of the case.
The Migrante Middle East through Monterona commended Embassy’s case officers, Attache’s Frias, Akraman and Harris under the direct guidance of Vice Consul Reyes. “We will not hesitate to laud the good job done by embassy’s case officers and officials for that matter so long as they will provide same assistance to all distress and run away OFWs not only to KGS and Migrante members,” Monterona added.
The email also mentioned that there is no case filed yet against the KGS members and they are hoping; that KGS Secretary-General Mike Garlan and member Rustico Marcos will be released any time from today who are still in jail for 11 days now.
The Embassy informed the group that those with Iqama (working permit) will be released immediately, those who have expired Iqama or run away will be deported.
2 of the 5 detained OFW women namely Sarah Gumansing and Elvira De Guzman have already been released in the custody of their respective employers; while run away OFWs Clemia Corpuz, Rosa Salazar, Amauri Meriz together with Reynaldo Balagtas who filed a labor case against his employer will be deported.
The Philippine Embassy through diplomatic means convinced the Saudi police that nothing illegal happened in the said gatherings or there is no commission of “prostitution” as alleged by the apprehending cultural police, locally called Muttawa.
While acknowledging the efforts undertaken by Assistance to Nationals Section (ANS) of Philippine Embassy, Monterona reiterated that “the next most important task the RP Embassies in the Middle East should be doing is to find proactive solutions that will lead in the legalization of all undocumented and run away OFWs mostly victims of abuses and maltreatment.”
“To our conservative estimate there are about nearly 26,000 undocumented and run away OFWs in the Middle East mostly in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon,” Monterona ended. # # # – BongA