Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Group hit government’s failure to provide legal assistance

Press Release
20 January 2009

Group hit government’s failure to provide legal assistance
Migrante KSA support fund drive for beleaguered OFWs

Migrante Saudi Arabia today lambasted the Arroyo government anew for failing to provide legal assistance to two OFWs charged with criminal offenses while declaring support to the drive to raise funds for legal requirements.

“The independent initiatives to raise funds in support of OFWs charged with criminal offense, once again shows the discontent of OFWs for the inability of the government to provide assistance to compatriots in distress,” thus declared A. M. Ociones, Chairperson of Migrante KSA.

A fund drive was recently initiated to raise SAR 20,000 to pay for the services of a Saudi lawyer to represent Ryan Torres, an OFW currently facing charges for distributing alleged fake Saudi Riyal bills, a criminal offense here with a penalty of 10-15 years imprisonment.

The fund drive for Ryan was independently initiated by friends after a request to provide a lawyer was reportedly turned down by the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah (PCGJ), a claim denied by Consul General Ezzedin Tago during a recent dialogue with Migrante KSA.

According to Ociones, ConGen Tago claimed during the dialogue that the PCGJ does not have the mandate to hire a lawyer, because only the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila can do so.

Ociones thus called on the government to “do away with the bureaucratic red tape and finger-pointing and exert all efforts to provide assistance to OFWs in distress.”

At the same time, Migrante KSA is helping to raise SAR 97,000 for the damages lodged by the family of an elderly Saudi who died after the vehicle driven by the Saudi smashed on the truck operated by an OFW named Javier.

Javier, whose contract was consummated last year, has been in jail for more than six months now.

The only remaining option to free Javier, according to co-workers interviewed by Migrante KSA is the payment of the damages.

Meanwhile, Migrante KSA calls on fellow Filipinos to be “extra vigilant in dealing with everyday life in a foreign country.”

The case of Ryan and Javier, according to Ociones “teaches us to vigilantly guard against any activities that would put us in distress situations.”

“It is most tragic to let our families suffer by simply becoming a victim of circumstances,” Ociones averred.

“With the government not being able to provide assistance, the best solution is definitely ‘prevention,’ by being vigilant, keenly observant of our sorroundings, and patient,” Ociones closed. “Kung sa commercial ng vitamins, ‘bawal magkasakit!’ Sa OFWs, bawal magkaroon ng kaso, dahil hindi ka tutulungan ng gobyerno!”

For reference:

A. M. Ociones,
Chairperson, Migrante Saudi Arabia
Tel. No.: +966-56-679-3202

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