GMA News reports that nine more migrant Filipino overseas workers (OFW’s) held in prison in Saudi Arabia were released after being granted pardon by the Saudi government.
Two Filipinos were earlier pardoned on the occasion of ‘Eid ul-Fitr’ and repatriated this week.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday that the nine benefited from the royal pardon issued by Saudi King Abdullah last December 11 to mark the return of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz from medical treatment overseas.
“These nine Filipinos are undergoing the necessary government procedures before they are allowed to leave the country. The Embassy is working on arranging the tickets for their journey back home, including with their original employers, if any,” a DFA spokesperson said.
DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo said the Philippine government regularly requests for the inclusion of Filipinos in any pardon, especially before Ramadan, and when it knows that they have served at least half their sentences and have made restitutions under the private rights aspect of their cases.
The Embassy also said it submitted to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs all the names of Filipino prisoners who could possibly qualify for clemency.
According to the DFA, there are 400 to 500 Filipino detainees within the Embassy’s jurisdiction, but these do not include those being monitored by the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.
The royal pardon applies to both Saudi nationals and foreigners who are not considered a threat to public order. The pardon covers those who are detained or jailed for petty crimes and violations and who have made restitutions to their victims. It also includes those whose charges are still being heard by the courts.
However, the pardon does not include those arrested for major crimes, or offenses liable for specific punishments under Shariah law (hadd crimes) or for lawsuits on private rights, such as theft, embezzlement, diyah (blood money) and qisas (retaliation).
Saudi’s royal family, whose members occupy the highest positions in the government, normally grants pardons for petty crimes during Eid ul-Fitr (end of the fasting moth of Ramadan), Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), or during any other special occasion celebrated by the royal family.
Such was the case for the two jailed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who arrived in Manila Wednesday night after being granted pardon in October 2009 to mark the Eid ul-Fitr.
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