Last week, Migrante-Middle East and Migrante-Saudi Arabia chapter urged the Arroyo administration through the DFA and the Philippine Consular General (PCG) Office in Jeddah to provide legal assistance to OFWs Ryan Anievas and Eddie Javier.
Anievas was accused of distributing fake riyals, Saudi’s currency. The said riyals were given to him as change when he bought goods from a store. Javier, a truck driver, on the other hand, accidentally hit a Saudi national.
In a dialogue with Migrante-Saudi Arabia on January 14, Consul General Ezzadin Tago said PCG “did not reject” Anievas’ request for a lawyer but they “simply cannot hire one”.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said the government should hire the services of Filipino Muslim lawyers who have better knowledge of Sharia law or conduct legal trainings and seminars among diplomatic staff abroad for this purpose.
Migrante International reported that more than 5,000 overseas Filipinos are languishing in jails worldwide while the DFA cites the particularly distressing situation of Filipinos incarcerated in the Middle East owing to their lack of access to Shariah lawyers among many other specific legal concerns.
The group said they will campaign and lobby for the immediate passage of Ocampo’s bill.
Ocampo said, “I find it only fair that government reciprocate these [OFWs’] contributions in many ways such as immediately expanding the legal assistance it extends to migrant workers and overseas Filipinos, both documented and undocumented, in distressful situations abroad.” (Bulatlat.com)