Saudi assures full assistance to OFWs

Saudi labor authorities assured that Filipino workers who failed to beat the November 3 deadline imposed by Saudi authorities to fix their status but had started the process will be allowed to complete the process and will not be arrested as long as there are no violations,

This was disclosed by Vice President Jejomar Binay after he raised the concern with Bahrain’s Labor Minister, Jameel bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan, who is also the Chairman of the GCC Council of Labor Ministers and was in Manila on official visit. Minister Humaidan, accompanied by Special Envoy to GCC, Dr. Amable R. Aguiluz V, paid a courtesy call on the Vice President last November 6. Upon recommendation of Aguiluz to the Vice President, the Minister called Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Mr. Mufreg Al-Haqbani appealing not to make arrests nor harm those who are found not having travel documents.

Subsequently, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi, H.E. Ezzedin Tago, received a message form the Saudi Labor Deputy Minister Mr. Mufreg Al-Haqbani, giving assurance that Filipinos will be treated well while processing their exit visas.

Ambassador Tago reiterated his appeal to Filipinos in the Kingdom to remain calm because the Philippine government is ready to provide appropriate assistance. In addition, Filipinos who have not yet enlisted for processing of their exit visas were advised to contact the Embassy or the Philippine Overseas Labor Office as the process for the exit visa will resume next week.

Meanwhile, the Philippine embassy in  Riyadh is pursuing last-ditch efforts to stay the execution of Joselito Zapanta after the deadline for the payment of blood money lapsed Sunday, November 3, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said.

Zapanta is a Filipino sentenced to death for the murder of a Sudanese national in Saudi in 2009.

“Ambassador Ezzedin Tago has not given up and is in constant communication with the ambassador of Sudan,” Binay said.

“The ambassador of Sudan was requested to talk with the heirs of Zapanta’s victim to ask for an extension and reduction of the blood money,” he added.

According to the Vice President, the ambassador of Sudan and his staff have been contacting the heirs of the victim, but their calls have not been answered.

The Sudanese ambassador had also promised to visit the heirs at their home to discuss a possible extension and reduction of the blood money demand.

Out of the SAR 4 million or about P45 million blood money set by the heirs, Zapanta’s family and the Philippine government were only able to raise SAR 520,831.

Binay also said that on November 3, embassy officials in Saudi visited Zapanta at the Malaz Central Jail where he was detained.

“I was also informed that Zapanta has said that he is ready to face his fate. The embassy team had also observed that he seemed relaxed and had been talking to his fellow inmates,” Binay said.#