DFA working to include OFWs in forthcoming royal pardon

January 6, 2010 11:36 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Jan. 6 — The Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Jeddah has sent a note verbale to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking to include Filipinos in a List of Royal Pardons to be announced by the office of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah in a few weeks, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

PCG-Jeddah Ezzedin H. Tago sent the note verbale to the Makkah Branch of the Ministry, according to the DFA.

To reiterate its concern, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh also requested Saudi authorities for a list of Filipinos in jail who would be pardoned.

DFA Secretary Alberto G. Romulo said the department does this regularly “especially before Ramadan, and when it knows that they (overseas Filipino workers) have served at least half their sentences.”

This time, the royal pardon marks Saudi Arabia’s celebration of the return to Saudi Arabia of Crown Prince Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz from an extended successful medical checkup in the United States.

The announcement of a royal pardon was made on December 11, but the names in the list are to be finalized and released only a few weeks from now.

In an announcement, Romulo said he has “deep appreciation for the benevolence and kindness of His Majesty King Abdullah and wished him and Crown Prince Sultan long life.” The King is the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques of the Islam world, both found in Saudi Arabia.

The royal pardon applies to both Saudi nationals and foreigners who are considered not to pose a threat to public order.

The pardon covers those who are detained or jailed for petty crimes and violations and who have made restitution to their victims. They include those whose charges are still being heard by the courts.

DFA reminded that the pardon does not include 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. Murder is also considered a major crime in Saudi Arabia.

This effectively excludes a possible pardon for OFW Dondon Lanusa, who is currently serving a prison term for killing a Saudi Arabian national in 2002 — unless the victim’s son directly forgives Lanusa, said DFA spokesperson J. Eduardo Malaya. (PNA)

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