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Monday, August 09, 2010

Migrant group stands by the information about starving of jailed OFW



After exposing to the media the deplorable plight of a jailed OFW in Saudi prison few weeks back which the RP post in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia denied based on its issued statement, Migrante-Middle East said it stands by the information that OFW Joselito Zapanta has been starved in Malaz Central jail.


“Upon hearing the miserable plight of OFW Joselito Zapanta as his family sought our assistance, we have urged the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to visit him, look unto his condition and provide the necessary assistance. We stand by the information given to us by his family that he has been starved after being beaten few weeks ago,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona said that his group in fact investigated the report of his miserable condition inside the jail as OFW Zapanta has been telling his family via short messages and long distance calls that he has been manhandled and that not given food inside jail.


“Two days ago another fellow jailed OFW, Robert Lazarte called me asking for assistance to follow his case with RP embassy staff; I have asked him if he knew Joselito Zapanta. He said he has heard of him complaining too about lack of food, but he belongs to other prison cell, not on cell no.15,” Monterona quoted Lazarte.


Monterona said not only OFW Zapanta is complaining but as well other jailed OFWs inside Malaz Central jail about lack of food and toiletries for their daily used.


Monterona said it is expected that the RP post will strongly deny the miserable condition of OFW Zapanta and the other 70+ jailed OFWs in prison cell no.15. He added there are about more than 50 plus jailed OFWs in other cells at the Malaz Central jail.


Monterona also deplores the RP post by diverting the issue of neglecting jailed OFWs such as Zapanta and Lazarte. The RP embassy on a report said “publicity” will jeopardize Zapanta getting a clemency from the victim’s family.


“We are not discussing the criminal case of OFW Zapanta in public, we are merely asking the RP post to do its job by conducting regular visit so that they should know the deplorable conditions of our jailed OFWs for humanitarian consideration as they complained to us lack of food, water and toiletries,” Monterona added.


Monterona said he will not be surprised if one day the RP post would say that OFW Zapanta and the other jailed OFWs in prison cell are starving because they are now Muslim converts and that need to have fasting.


“Mid-August is the start of the Holy month of Ramadan, then it would be easy for the RP embassy to justify not the give them food and water,” Monterona added.


“We would like to remind our Embassy, Consular and Labor officials that they are duty bound to provide assistance to OFWs especially those who are in trouble, Migrante officers and members are here to remind them and ever ready to even extend assistance to run away, distress OFWs as this is our commitment in serving our fellow OFWs.” Monterona ended. # # # 



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