Filipinos pardoned by Saudi King missed flight out of Jeddah; being rebooked, says DFA

March 22, 2010 11:45 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, March 22 — Because they arrived late at the airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 11 Filipinos who were among 200 pardoned in the past months by Saudi Arabian Royal Decree and were scheduled for repatriation, missed their flight out on Monday last week.

This was the explanation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) why the Filipinos did not materialize in Manila last week as expected by their relatives and sympathizers, who fussed about it and blamed the government instead.

The DFA quickly added that the Filipinos are being rebooked for the next available flight, with Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. reiterating that "the DFA remains focused on looking after the welfare of our OFWs, and will continue to do so.”

“The responsibility for transporting individuals from jail to the airport belonged to the Saudi authorities, and not Philippine embassy officials. There is no transfer of custody over them even at the airport,” DFA said as it negated a Philippine media (not PNA) report that Philippine authorities have been remiss in their job as to the repatriation.

The plane on which they were booked had already left when the group arrived past midnight on Monday, under escort by Saudi police authorities, according to the DFA.

With the “vigorous representation” of the Philippine consulate-general in Jeddah, 200 Filipinos who were imprisoned for petty offenses in Saudi Arabia have been pardoned and repatriated to the Philippines since December last year, the DFA said.

"The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah made vigorous representations on behalf of our Filipinos in jail and endorsed and followed up on their appeals for clemency with Saudi authorities," Conejos said.

Repatriation is done in batches.

On December 11, 2009, Saudi King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques of Islam, issued a royal pardon for petty crime offenders, among them the 200 Filipinos. (PNA)

DCT/GJB

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