Royal pardon gives hope to OFWs in prison: Migrante
By ARAB NEWS
Published: Apr 19, 2011 15:08
Updated: Apr 19, 2011 15:18
RIYADH: Filipino inmates at the Malaz central jail in Riyadh have welcomed the royal pardon granted to a compatriot on death row and are hoping that they too would soon be freed, a migrant workers advocacy group said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, quoting a report from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, said the pardoned Filipino prisoner was repatriated to the Philippines on Monday after his exit papers were completed.
The DFA did not identify the lucky inmate, but Migrante-Middle East named him as Jason Mallorca Pineda, 36, who was earlier sentenced to death for drug trafficking.
In its statement, the DFA said the OFW was sentenced to death by beheading in November 2009 by a tribunal of three judges for involvement in smuggling the illegal drug methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) into Saudi Arabia.
"Through the Embassy's efforts, an appeal was filed on the original decision. Based on the appeal prepared by the Embassy with the assistance of counsel, two members of the tribunal reduced the earlier penalty from death penalty to 15 years imprisonment, 1500 lashes and a karama (fine) of Saudi Riyals 100,000.
"Subsequently, the Embassy included the OFW's name in the list submitted to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud for the grant of Royal Clemency. The Embassy's efforts was favorably acted upon, and he was ordered released after serving a total of three years in detention.
"Upon release, he tearfully thanked the Embassy for its relentless efforts at working for his release from prison," the DFA statement said.
How about the others?
Migrante-Middle East said the release of Pineda is a welcome development and suggested that the embassy also exert more effort to get those who have already served their sentences out of prison.
“The jailed OFWs, especially those who have served their respective jailed term and those who were victim of trumped up charges by their employers, would be more than happy if they could also avail the royal pardon just like OFW Jason M. Pineda,” Migrante-Middle East coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in the group's blogspot.
Monterona noted that there are at least 48 inmates in Malaz who claim to have already served their sentences, but remain behind bars.
“Jailed OFWs at the Malaz central jail have been calling me since yesterday to follow up the status of the pardon application in which we were told have already been submitted by the PH embassy to the Saudi pardon committee,” Migrante-Middle East coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in the blogspot.
He said the Filipino inmates, who are at cell numbers 13, 14 and 17 "have been asking for an update as they said they can’t contact PH embassy officials who visited them only ‘once in a blue moon."
“OFW Farouq Hadji Malik Bayabao, leader of the 48 OFW inmates who formed their own group — the Zalam Brotherhood International, requested me to follow their case and the status of the pardon since they are not certain if their names are included in the list that was submitted to the Saudi pardon committee,” said Monterona.
Monterona claimed that his group had been following the case of the jailed OFWs but got little cooperation from the embassy's assistance to nationals section staff.
“PH embassy is not giving us an update of the pardon much more on the status of the jailed OFWs cases,” Monterona complained.