RP Post Welfare Officer Still Detained in Saudi Jail; Migrant Rights Group Calls Anew for his Immediate Release (PR)

Press Release
23 August 2010

More than 2 months from his arrest on 12 June 2010, the welfare officer of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is still detained in Deira Jail, Riyadh and pleading hard for his immediate release.

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Welfare officer Bashir Ayob, 47 years old from Takurong, Sultan Kudarat, was arrested on 12 June while he is attending the repatriation formalities of distress OFWs. He is accused and a primary suspect for rushing into a Saudi hospital an OFW woman while she is about to give birth but unfortunately died.

Welof Ayob has been working at the Philippine Embassy since 2006 who was then designated as Officer-In-Charge of the Embassy’s Bahay Kalinga.

According to the reports, on 22 May at around 3:40 p.m. an unidentified OFW woman was rushed to the Shemesy Hospital in Riyadh by an OFW who was not identified; the OFW woman died.

Usually seen assisting sick OFWs at the Shemesy hospital for check-up almost every day, Welof Ayob then became the suspect.

On 10 June, he was invited by the Saudi police for questioning about the said incident but was later cleared.

Two days after, he was arrested while attending the repatriation formalities of distress OFWs at the immigration office in Riyadh.

His wife, Bing Ayob who is an OFW nurse based in Riyadh, first appealed to the Philippine Embassy for assistance seeking for his immediate release from prison as he is innocent of the crime charged against him.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) made a public pronouncement that it will be extending assistance to Welof Ayob by hiring a local lawyer for his defense.

Migrant-Middle East, an alliance of Filipino migrant rights group, urged the Philippine Embassy-Assistance to the Nationals Section (ANS) to arrange Welof Ayob released by placing him under its custody.

“More than 2 months now since his detention, the RP post didn’t even bother to issue a certification that Welof Ayob is not the person who abandoned the OFW who died at the Shemesy hospital, and then arrange to place him under the embassy’s custody,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said Welof Ayob’s continued detention is greatly affecting the numerous welfare cases he is to attend. “Now there are about 120 distress OFWs staying at the Bahay Kalinga, which unlike before under Welof Ayob’s care and guidance there are only about 40 distress OFWs at Bahay Kalinga,” Monterona added.

Monterona deplores the RP post slow action, if there is any, and post indecisiveness attending on Welof Ayob’s case. “His immediate release must be given top priority by the RP post as he is contributing a lot in attending distress OFWs cases, while other inept officials are merely sitting inside their air-conditioned offices at the Philippine embassy; these inept embassy officials deserve to be in jail, not Welof Ayob,” Monterona ended.

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator

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