17 August 2009
Statement on the Arrest of KGS-Migrante Leaders
Migrante Saudi Arabia expresses disappointment over the arrest of its leaders and members in Riyadh. While we respect the laws and legal processes of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we believe the arrest exposes the limitations of its rules concerning 'private gatherings', contact with 'absconders', and what constitutes prostitution.
We do not hope that the Saudi authorities would offer any reprieve soon for organized communities who deal with the exposed symptoms rather than the cause. That, we believe is reserved only for the government of Saudi Arabia to identify and cure.
It is unthinkable, however, for the organized communities such as KGS and Migrante not to provide assistance to compatriots in various distress situations because that would mean absconding to man's inherent humanity. Should we turn a blind eye to anybody calling for help? This incident only requires any concerned individual or group to be more discreet in its mission of providing help whenever and wherever its needed.
As an organization, Migrante KSA and its members normally provide absconders with food whenever needed, monitor their health and safety, usually document their grievances then ultimately refer them to the Philippine government representatives at the Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate in Jeddah.
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS-Migrante, or KGS/M) has been the foremost overseas Filipino organization since the 1980s, supporting democratic and national aspirations at the homefront while catering to the needs of compatriots-in-distress in the Kingdom. Even when it lost one of its key leaders to a deranged compatriot in 2000, the group never faltered in its mission. The recent arrest therefore, is only a small glitch in its commitment.
Migrante KSA also releases the following photo of former Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS-Migrante) Chairperson Mario Ben (left) and Mike Garlan, KGS/M Secretary-General (right). At the center is Bidang, KGS/M Committee on Rights and Welfare (CRAW) officer
The three were among the 18 Filipinos arrested on August 14 in Riyadh in what local media termed a 'mixed gathering.' The group was in fact documenting the cases of runaway OFWs before they are turned over to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, part of Migrante's standard operating procedure in handling such cases.
KGS, is the local chapter of Migrante International in Riyadh.
A.M. Ociones, Chairperson
(Migrante International - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Chapter)
Tel. No.: +966-56-679-3202