Friday, August 27, 2010

A Repost From GMA News.TV

RP staffer in Riyadh still detained without charges

An employee of the Philippine post in Riyadh continues to be detained there for over two months now for his alleged involvement in the death of a woman, but local authorities have yet to file charges against him. Philippine Labor Attaché to Riyadh Alberto Valenciano confirmed in an interview that Bashir Ayob, an employee of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, remains in detention at the Deira jail but has yet to be formally charged. Ayob, 42 from Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat, was arrested on June 12 while attending to the repatriation requirements of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW). (See: RP welfare officer in Riyadh held on false charges, says wife)

Based on a previous interview with his wife Janet, a Filipina nurse also working in Riyadh, Ayob was arrested allegedly after bringing to the hospital an unidentified pregnant woman, allegedly also an OFW, who eventually died due to severe bleeding. Janet has previously appealed to the Embassy to assist his husband, saying that he was innocent. “He is just a fall guy. He helped many OFWs to be repatriated to the Philippines and now he is being accused of a crime he never did," she said. Embassy yet to receive info Valenciano said Ambassador Antonio Villamor has already sent a note verbale to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting that a meeting between him and the deputy minister of interior be arranged. “We have to follow the diplomatic process. For now, this is the most that we can do," Valenciano told GMANews.TV. According to Valenciano, Villamor has likewise sent another note verbale to follow up on his previous request, but the Embassy has yet to receive a response. Valenciano also admitted they have yet to get hold of confirmed information on the circumstances of Ayob’s arrest, saying they only have a copy of a police report indicating that Ayob’s case is still under investigation. “We have already filed a motion for his release. The Embassy is on top of the situation but we can only do so much based on local laws," he said. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Carmelita Dimzon meanwhile said in a separate interview that according to reports, Ayob was arrested because “he violated the law of Saudi Arabia." “Reportedly he brought a woman to the hospital and the woman died. Under Saudi laws, you should not just leave a dead person in the hospital and instead report it to authorities. He reportedly failed to do that," Dimzon said. ‘Guilty until proven innocent’ Valenciano said the Embassy has already hired a Saudi lawyer to work on Ayob’s case. Unlike in the Philippines, he explained, people in Saudi suspected of committing crimes are “presumed guilty until proven innocent." “Suspects may be detained up to six months, within which charges should already be filed. After that, he may be released if there are still no charges," said Valenciano. A Filipino migrants’ rights group has urged the Embassy to place Ayob under its custody. “More than 2 months now since his detention, the Philippine post didn’t even bother to issue a certification that Ayob is not the person who abandoned the (woman), and arrange to place him under the Embassy’s custody," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator. Monterona added Ayob’s continued detention resulted in an increased number of cases of OFWs in distress that are unattended. “Now there are about 120 distressed OFWs staying at the Bahay Kalinga, unlike before under Ayob’s care when there are only about 40 OFWs there," he said. Embassy employee since 80s Ayob has been working in Saudi Arabia for almost three decades now in various functions in the Embassy, such as interpreter and assistant in the Embassy’s welfare office. His duties involve liaising with other local authorities on behalf of OFWs in distress, and attending to cases of sick OFWs, which includes bringing them to clinics and hospitals. “Technically he is not a welfare officer, but he assists mostly women OFWs who escaped from their employers and are now in the Embassy’s Bahay Kalinga. He was the one working for their exit visas for their repatriation," Valenciano explained. Dimzon likewise said Ayob was hired locally, being already a resident of Riyadh before working for the Embassy, but he remains a Filipino citizen. Ayob started working for the Embassy since 1980 as a contractual employee. Janet joined him in Riyadh in 2003. They have a five-year-old son.—JV, GMANews.TV

Reposted From GMA News.TV

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