9 Filipinos pardoned by Saudi King Abdullah

January 7, 2010 11:02 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Jan. 7 — The release from prison and eventual repatriation to the Philippines of nine Filipinos are now underway in Saudi Arabia following confirmation that they are among those pardoned under a December 11 royal decree by King Abdullah, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported on Thursday.

However, their identities are not revealed by the DFA until their next-of-kin in the Philippines have been notified. The nine belongs to the reported first batch from the latest Saudi Arabian List of Royal Pardons, the DFA said, quoting the Philippine embassy in Riyadh.

The current List commemorates the return of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz from medical treatment overseas.

The former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were jailed for what are considered in Saudi Arabia as light crime that do not threaten Saudi Arabia’s public order. Violation of immigration laws falls under this category.

The nine are now undergoing requisite prison release and repatriation procedures, with the Embassy arranging for their return tickets, the DFA added.

Earlier, DFA Secretary Alberto G. Romulo expressed deep appreciation for the pardon of the Filipinos, which he said reflects the “benevolence and kindness” of His Majesty King Abdullah. He also wished the King and the Crown Prince Sultan long life.

Part of the procedure towards inclusion in the pardons list was the Riyadh Embassy submitting to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs the names of Filipino prisoners possibly qualifying for clemency or pardon, according to the DFA.

Between 400 to 500 Filipinos are detained within the Embassy’s jurisdiction, separate from those monitored by the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.

A royal pardon does not extend to those arrested for major crimes, or offenses liable for specific punishments under Shariah law (hadd crimes) or from lawsuits on private rights, such as theft, embezzlement, diyah and qisas.

In a related development, the Middle East-based non-governmental group, “Migrante International”, said two OFWs are among those pardoned on the occasion of the Eid El Ftir holidays last October 2009.

Migrante identified them as OFWs Jose Cleofas, 55 years old, and Reynaldo Liwanag, 50 years old. They were jailed for two years for possession of liquor.

Both are reportedly on their way home to the Philippines as this story was being written.

The DFA has not reacted to the information. (PNA)

DCT/GJB

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