OFW group to PNoy: Legal assistance to OFWs should not be selective

MIGRANTS’ rights activist group in the Middle East today scored and reminded President Benigno Simeon Aquiino III that govt. state responsibility in providing assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) should not be selective.

Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) issued this statement in reaction to the promise by Pres. Aquino that his administration will provide legal assistance to OFW Ruben Kebeng, driver of a fuel tanker that exploded in Riyadh killing 22 people and injured a hundred more.

“Issuing promises of assistance to distress OFWs like of OFW Kebeng is always good to hear. But hearing OFWs repeated plea for govt. assistance because there is no action or dilly-dallying to act is bit frustrating,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona cited for instance the numerous cases of OFWs in jail. He noted that there are OFWs still languishing in various Saudi jails though they’ve already completed jail terms but could not be released until they’ve paid the private aspect of their case, to pay compensation for loss or damages.

“OFW Jhigs Nuguid case is an example. He was driving a car going to Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia when its tire exploded hitting two Saudi nationals who died on the spot. He is languishing in jail for almost two years now. The kin of the Saudi nationals are asking for compensation of around P7-M. Nuguid’s family repeatedly sought assistance to DFA but until now no clear reply and action,” Monterona revealed.

OFW Nuguid is detained at Dammam Central Jail in Dammam, eastern city of Saudi Arabia.

Monterona said there are around 120 OFWs still languishing in Saudi jails despite completion of jail term.

“If OFW Kebeng figured out in a not-so-high-profile case, we doubt if PNoy would publicly announce to provide legal aid to him just like the many jailed and distressed OFWs who are repeatedly pleading for govt. assistance,” Monterona said.

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