19 March 2009
What's a Police Officer and an assistant doing in Saudi Arabia?
Thus, asks today by an alliance of overseas Filipino Workers organizations in the Middle East upon learning that there are two (2) Police officers deployed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
On March 4, 2009, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh had announced that the Philippine government had deployed two Police Attache in Saudi Arabia which was posted on its web site (www.philembassy-riyadh.org)
Its statement said “x x x the Philippine government officials to assign him in the Kingdom in order to represent the PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on matters pertaining to police functions.”
Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is referring to P/SSupt. Jimmy L. Manabat, as Police Attache, and SPO4 Wendel D. Vergara, as administrative assistant to the former. The two Police officers arrived on 24 February 2009 and paid a courtesy call to Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor the following day, the statement said.
Migrante chapters in the Middle East along with OFWs and their families especially those charged and with pending cases in the Kingdom and neighboring countries are long calling for the deployment of Legal attaché to provide legal assistance they needed, but instead the Arroyo administration through the DILG and the PNP have sent two Police officers purportedly to perform its police functions.
Migrante-ME queried what police matters the 2 Police officers would perform. Is there a threat to national security or to Filipino community here in Saudi Arabia? We don’t see any reason why the Arroyo administration had sent police attaché in the Kingdom, instead of sending legal attaché that would be of assistance to OFWs with pending cases, it added.
Migrante-ME said the Kingdom is the most peaceful place to live in the Middle East considering that it recorded the least crimes occurred compared to other neighboring countries, and considering the tight internal security measures being implemented by the Saudi authorities, thus the deployment of Police attaché is uncalled for, unless the Arroyo regime is now treating progressive OFWs groups like Migrante and its member-organization as a ‘threat’ to national security.
If being active and at the forefront of defending and upholding OFWs rights and welfare is now considered a ‘threat’ to national security and now a matter of police concerns, the Arroyo administration and its national security officials are totally wrong and probably misinformed and misled.
The OFWs alliance said the deployment of Police attaché will only creates an alarm and unfavorable impressions among OFWs and the entire Filipino community as it does not have clear functions to perform and most of all it does not justify its presence in the most peaceful place in the Middle East.
OFWs don’t think that the DILG and the PNP, by deploying its two Police officers, could perform police functions in a foreign land, which is out of its jurisdiction. All they could do is gather intelligence information related to counter-insurgency; but there is no insurgency problem in the Kingdom, it added.
Migrante-ME said the deployment of Police attaché by the Arroyo regime only signifies throwing its iron hand of continued political repression and persecution even abroad aimed of vilifying progressive OFW organizations like Migrante and its member-organizations which are at the forefront and actively defending and upholding OFWs rights and welfare.
Migrante-ME is urging Philippine Embassy officials in Riyadh to deeply think the repercussions of the deployment of Police attaché to the entire Filipino community in the Kingdom.
Migrante-ME is also urging the members of the Senate and House of Representatives’ respective Committee on Labor and OFWs concerns to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, pertaining to said deployment of Police attaché instead of legal attaché that could provide legal assistance to OFWs with pending charges and in jail. (end)