7 Pinoys get Ramadan reprieve; 98 others win case
MANILA, Philippines—There are seven Filipinos among the prisoners Saudi Arabia has pardoned as part of the month-long observance of Ramadan, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Manila said this weekend.
The names of those pardoned and details about their offenses, however, were not released.
In a statement, the embassy said Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud issued a royal clemency for the release of prisoners in different jails in the kingdom, among them, seven Filipinos incarcerated for various criminal offenses.
In a statement to the Inquirer, the Saudi Embassy said: “This clemency distinguishes the kingdom from the rest of the world as it preserves the family entity and social relationships and makes those it covers feel the tolerance of Islam.”
Filipinos were included in the clemency “in view of the excellent relations between Saudi Arabia and the Philippines and due to humanitarian considerations” and reflects “the importance of strengthening the friendship between the two countries,” the Saudi Embassy statement added.
“Ramadan is a season of goodwill, pardon and mercy and its coming causes the lifting of the penalty resulting from the offense committed,” the statement also said.
Ramadan was observed around the world this year from July 20 to Aug. 18.
The Philippine government estimates there are over a million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had another piece of good news yesterday. Eighty-two of the 98 overseas Filipino workers who filed a labor case—and won—in a Saudi labor court against their employer, the Al Swayeh Company, for nonpayment of wages and end-of-service benefits are expected home soon.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the company’s owner, Abdulrahman al Rajhi, visited the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) the other day to discuss how to fast-track the repatriation of the workers.
The 98 OFWs filed a case in September 2011 against their employer, Al Swayeh, a company engaged in construction. According to DOLE, the company reportedly experienced labor problems in 2007 when it suffered financial losses because of poor management.
Baldoz said the visit of Al Rajhi was a follow-up to an earlier meeting with Saudi Assistant Minister of Labor Hamad al Hodaithi on Sept. 1.
“During that meeting with the Saudi labor official, Mr. Al Rajhi committed to send home 82 of the 98 workers within this month,” said Baldoz, citing the update report of Riyadh-based labor Attaché Alberto Valenciano.
In his report, Valenciano said Al Rajhi also promised to settle what was due the remaining 28 workers who had not yet received their end-of-service benefits.
According to Valenciano, the day after the Polo visit of Al Rajhi, three representatives of the workers, accompanied by Welfare Officer Leonardo Rodrigo Jr., went to the Al Swayeh office where they met with company officials.
“In that meeting, the officials informed the workers’ representatives that Al Swayeh had already applied for the exit visas of 31 workers who are on the priority list the Polo had submitted during Ramadan.