3 Jailed UAE OFWs granted humanitarian pardon on Eid

Media Release
06 July 2023

Families of jailed OFWs who have sought urgent help from Migrante International in raising their concerns to concerned government agencies received quite a surprise after hearing news that three Filipinos have been granted humanitarian pardon by United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Friday, June 23 in time for Eid al-Adha.

The jailed OFWs’ relatives claimed that their appeal for visitation rights, medical attention, and provision of food and hygiene supplies have been ignored by concerned Philippine government agencies such as the DFA, POEA, OWWA and OUMWA. They said that they experienced apathy, insensitivity, and government neglect when they individually asked government assistance. 

Ironically, President Bongbong Marcos made a media announcement claiming that he had called the UAE President on the issue of jailed OFWs in the UAE. The families, however, have not received any call from the Philippine Embassy in the UAE or from the Department of Foreign Affairs to confirm the “humanitarian pardon.”

According to Maricel Santos, wife of Ricardo Santos who was meted death penalty due to drug trafficking, on June 22 her husband called on the phone to tell her that the police inside the jail informed him that he is included in the list of migrant workers who have been pardoned by the UAE President. 

On the same date, Angel Pamplona, wife of Jaypee Pamplona who was also sentenced to death announced, “Kasama din po asawa ko sa pardon (My husband is included in the pardon). Thank you, thank you Lord.” According to Angel, Assistance to Nationals or ATN sent a message containing the newslink about Marcos’ announcement.

Unfortunately, Ellaine Dizon, whose brother Noel has been charged with slander and sentenced with 15-year imprisonment, revealed that her brother had not been included in the list of OFWs who will receive pardon. Noel called her on June 22, telling her that he is not on the list. Ellaine’s family had struggled to seek medical attention for Noel in prison.

Adela Boquiron also informed the group that her brother was also included in the list of pardoned prisoners. Her brother’s case involved unpaid loans and that he has been detained at Shumaishi Detention Center for more than four years. She said that their family had not seen her brother for 18 years.

Migrante International had consulted the Commission on Human Rights through Ms. Marizen Santos to help the jailed OFWs. In a dialogue with the families held in April this year, the families submitted statements and supporting documents about the jailed OFWs. CHR promised to do everything to get action from concerned government agencies and to set a dialogue with the Department of Migrant Workers.

Definitely, the meeting with the CHR had provided relief and hope to the jailed OFWs’ families. In an opportune meeting with the Veloso family on June 10, the families received a boost of inspiration and strength to fight for the freedom of their loved ones. They drew inspiration from the Veloso family’s campaign for the freedom of Mary Jane, a victim of human trafficking who was sentenced to death but eventually pardoned, but has been languishing in jail for more than 13 years in Indonesia.

The families said they learned important lessons in fighting for their loved ones’ freedom, after feeling that they were abandoned by the government when they acted individually. They learned that collective action brings about fruitful results and were inspired to from the Save Overseas Filipinos in Jail or SOFJ, a network devoted to campaigning for the freedom of overseas Filipinos in jails abroad.###