OFW found dead in Saudi jail

An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) accused of being a drug trafficker was found dead inside his cell, Migrante Middle East’s report said.

The 36 year-old Franco (not his real name), a native of Candaba, Pampanga was reported dead dead inside his cell at the Jizan jail last

OFW Franco (not his real name), 36 years old, from Candaba, Pampanga has been reported dead inside Saudi’s Jizan jail on November 1. Jizan province is located at the far south-west part of the oil-rich Kingdom.

On November 1, his family received a call from Saudi Arabia informing that OFW Franco was found lifeless inside his prison cell in Jizan jail.

OFW Franco was deployed as a trailer truck driver for a Saudi-based company on 2004.

He went home for a vacation, and on June 5, 2010 returned to Saudi to work with the same company.

Sometime on September 2010, his family in the Philippines was informed that he has been apprehended by Saudi police for alleged drug trafficking, but he said and maintained that he had been framed up.

On September 15, he was transferred to Jizan jail.

Since then, the family lost contact with him, a member of his family said: ‘We neither heard any information of him nor received calls from him, until this report on his death.’

On 3 November, a relative of OFW Franco had sought the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant workers Affairs and was told that it will send a request for a report on this incident from the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

OFW Franco’s nearest of kin (NOK) followed his case to the DFA-OUMWA on November 10, and the family has been told, citing initial reports from the PHL embassy in Saudi, that he died on 1 November due to multiple respiratory failure.

The family requested for the repatriation of his remains only after a thorough investigation has been conducted, and a police report will be obtained by the Philippine embassy.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-based migrant rights group, Migrante-Middle East today urges the PHL embassy in Saudi Arabia to form and immediately dispatch a consular investigating team and arrange the conduct of a thorough investigation to shed light on the gloomy circumstances of OFW Franco’s death.

“We are not discounting the possibility of a foul play, it is perceived that torture and other inhumane punishments are common against an accused, without respect to basic human rights, that could have led to his sudden death, hence we are calling for a thorough investigation,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said amid the numerous cases of OFWs rights violations, abuses, maltreatment, and rampant labor malpractices victimizing OFWs in the Middle East the Aquino government must now decisively act in providing protection to OFWs and fulfill his promise to swiftly attend on their issues and concerns in recognition of the OFWs contribution to Philippine economy through their billions of remittances to reach US$21-B as projected by end of this year. (Written for CBCPNews.com)