2 pardoned OFWs come home

ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines — Two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)pardoned by the Saudi government are coming home Thursday.

Jose Cleofas, 55, and Reynaldo Liwanag, 50, were pardoned two months ago after being convicted of illegal possession of liquor, Migrante-Middle East coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a statement.

The two were granted clemency by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz during the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in October, when the Saudi royal family traditionally grants clemency to people convicted of petty crimes.

“It was Rodolfo, Jose’s son who informed Migrante-ME about the repatriation of the two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),” Monterona said.

The two Filipinos worked for Mansour Jumah Agriculture Co., an agribusiness based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Cleofas, who had been working in Saudi Arabia for 20 years, and Liwanag, were forced to resign on their arrest. They had served a two-year sentence by the time they were pardoned.

Migrante-ME and its local chapter in Saudi Arabia endorsed the case of Cleofas and Liwanag to the Department of Foreign Affairs-Assistance to Nationals Section (DFA-ANS) for legal assistance.

On December 11 last year, King Abdulla again granted clemency to convicted petty criminals “and we are hoping that our consuls in Saudi will grab this opportunity to appeal for our 79 kababayans (compatriots) who are now in jail because of allegedly committing petty crimes,” Monterona said.

Relatives of jailed OFWs who have been sending queries to Migrante-ME about their loved ones are advised to seek an audience with the DFA’S Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs in Pasay City. (Appeared at Dateline Philippines, 07 January 2010)