ANTIPOLO CITY, January 13, 2010—It is the government’s duty to pay for the fare of the pardoned overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi.
This was the statement of Migrante-Middle East (ME) after one of the 300 incarcerated OFWs in Malaz Central Jail reported that the Philippine Consulate wants them to buy their own airfare, or just remain in jail.
Last December 11, 2009 the Saudi monarch, Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, decided to grant royal pardon to prisoners incarcerated due to petty crimes. Reports say that the Philippine post is now processing the availing of pardon for the OFWs, majority of which have already served their sentences.
“A certain Lucresio phoned me, asking for ticket assistance. He told me that if they were told by the consular staff that if they can’t buy their own tickets, they will remain in jail,” says John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME’s regional coordinator.
“Sadly, his family is too poor to avail the ticket. Lucresio told me, sadly, that his family back in the Philippines is now suffering from hunger because they only depend on the money that he is sending back home,” added Monterona.
A one-way ticket, economy class, from Riyadh to Manila usually costs US$342.88 (P15,583.89); though it can go as high as US$438.51 (P19,930.28) depending on the airline.
“It is very annoying that the government does not want to spend for their fare while there are funds available for this. Besides, the cost of plane tickets for the pardoned OFWs is just a small amount compared to the billions of money sent by OFWs through their remittances and the billions of money collected from them by the government through numerous fees and charges,” Monterona said. (CBCPNews.com)