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No legal assistance provided to jailed Filipina worker 'Clarissa'

On December 12, 2010

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia -An alliance of Filipino migrant rights group in the Middle East that directly provided assistance to OFW “Clarissa” who has been raped and was jailed due to ‘adultery’ case, today said she was convicted of ‘adultery’ charged against her because there is no legal assistance provided by the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

“From the very beginning when we handle her case as her parents seek assistance from us, we have formally demanded from the Philippine Embassy to provide legal assistance to her by hiring a local lawyer, but she was not given,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said Migrante-Al khobar chapter had in fact sent its welfare officer to attend on her case in Hafer Al Baten jail along with the PHL embassy staff to further investigate her case.

“Instead of giving her the needed assistance, including legal by hiring a local lawyer for her defense, the PH consular team opted to believe that she has not been raped and maintain that she has an illicit relationship with her co-worker,” Monterona added.

Monterona said his group stands by the plea and statement made by Clarissa that she has been raped, “thus, we have been demanding from the PH embassy to hire local lawyer for her defense, only to found out later that the PH embassy does not have an on-call local lawyer to provide assistance,” he averred.

“Usec Conejos and the PH embassy again missed our point. Clarissa should not be put to jail or she would not be in jail if the facts and the true circumstances of her being a victim of rape have been properly established in court with the help of a hired lawyer representing him in court,” Monterona added.

“Providing legal assistance is mandated by the Migrant Workers Act, but since there is no legal assistance given to Clarissa by the DFA and the PH embassy, then she has been neglected and a victim of government criminal neglect. That’s plain and simple,” Monterona averred.

The PH embassy in Riyadh admitted during several case dialogs that there is no lawyer hired on a retention basis. Providing legal assistance is on “as the need arises” basis.

Monterona calls on President Aquino to sack, without any hesitation, inept DFA officials abroad who could not provide better services and assistance to distress OFWs.

“If Pres. Aquino is true to his word of reforming the inefficient bureaucracy, then he must sack inept government officials who could not deliver the most basic service to the public including to OFWs and their families,” Monterona ended. # # #

Written by:

John Leonard Monterona

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator