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Saving Kabayan [countryman] OFW Ryan Torres Anievas

Is it incompetence or outright discrimination that exposed Filipinos in dire situations that could have been avoided in the first place?

Incompetence bordering on criminal when Philippine foreign affairs officials that is supposedly looking after the welfare of its Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) give false hopes through outright lies and misrepresentation.

The situation is so deplorable that one is reminded of the case of Jennifer Bedoya a.k.a. Venancio Ladion, beheaded in Jeddah on Oct. 14, 2008 for murder, to quote GMANews:

"Huwag ng antayin pa ng gobyerno ni Arroyo na makulong si (Let us not wait for the Arroyo government until Anievas is incarcerated) OFW Ryan Anievas. We certainly don’t want him to be another Jennifer Bedoya who was hanged due to the failure of the Arroyo government to provide legal assistance to him during the trial of his case," he said.

Bedoya, a.k.a. Venancio Ladion, was beheaded in Jeddah on Oct. 14, 2008 for murder. Migrante accused DFA officials of lying to the Bedoya family about the real status of the case and gave them false promises after it asked the family not to reveal the case to the media.

Migrante claimed Bedoya did not receive any legal assistance during his trial. “The family was later outraged to find out that Jennifer did not receive legal assistance, and was only provided an interpreter and not a lawyer in the early stages of the trial," Migrante said.

Consul General Ezzedin Tago, the Philippine envoy in Jeddah, later admitted the shortcoming, but claimed Bedoya was given legal assistance when he appealed the case.
Interpreter instead of a lawyer to represent the accused will almost always guarantee beheading and providing a lawyer on appeal is a bit late I should say. Trying to salvage the situation when damage has been done is not going to cut it, and if this is not incompetence or misplaced priorities I don’t know what is?

Consul General Ezzedin Tago you would think would have learned something from the beheading of Bedoya and would have known better to hire a lawyer the second time around so as not to repeat a dumb mistake. If indeed funding was a problem, they could not have hired a lawyer on the appeal or is this just their dumb SOB errr SOP. Consul General Ezzedin Tago has an opportunity to learn from their past mistakes to do the right thing in the case of OFW Ryan Anievas and yet, once again despite an an urgent appeal by Anievas for legal representation is providing an interpreter instead of a lawyer. What exactly is the reason why Tago is providing an interpreter? You guess it right, no funds as usual that they simply cannot hire one as he stated in a dialogue with Migrante-Saudi Arabia on January 14.

OFW Ryan Torres Anievas is a 29-year-old administrative clerk/secretary at Petro Rabigh Company Project in the industrial city of Rabigh in western Saudi Arabia. He had the misfortune of buying a gift for his wife at the Itnayn-Itnayn Store in Rabigh town where he was given 96-riyal change along with 5 pieces of fake 10 riyal bills (amounting to 50 SR). It was unfortunate that he did not notice that he was handed down fake currency and unintentionally without malice used the same to buy food.

There was no doubt the currency was fake as confirmed by the Saudi Finance Ministry complete with documentation from Saudi Aramco Security Authority that Ryan Anievas the “accused” used the bill to buy food. Is there such a thing as honest mistake in the Middle East that one who unknowingly received fake currencies is now accused of distributing fake currencies? Should the “authorities” not dig deeper and find the source instead of accusing the victim himself but then again why bother when they can easily pummel a Filipino migrant worker to add to their “accomplishments.” He is a victim but in a foreign land where discrimination and xenophobia permeates the minds of the ignorant a victim finds himself the accused instead of redress for the crime committed against his person.

The sad part is that the wife and baby of Ryan Anievas are staying with him and he is forced to send them back to the Philippines due to his legal predicament. As if to make matters seven worse his employment contract that ended on January 31, 2008 was not renewed by his employer. Talk about innocent until proven guilty but that is Saudi Arabia and nothing surprises us anymore.

To be jobless in a foreign land is excruciating enough and to be compounded with a pending criminal case against you is something that is truly dreadful exacerbated by cold incompetence of an arrogant administration is even more revolting. The only consolation he gets out of this is he has a friend willing to provide him shelter and the strong “Bayanihan” trait of compatriots like Migrante helping him air his plight and pressing for his legal protection and representation.

Time is running out with the trial scheduled on February 17, 2009 he may not get the proper legal representation if any that will be provided by the Philippine government. That is the problem with a feudal society finding themselves a washed with petro-dollars unable to grasp the importance of individual’s rights…….. you would think that with all the money they have, they would have been close to being a civilized society, where one cannot be convicted if one does not have proper legal representation.

The problem it appears is not just on the other side but ours as well if this article is accurate hoping it is a typographical error on the part of Bulatlat, to quote:
Mario Ben, KGS-Migrante spokesperson recalled, “The deployment of a government Labor Attaché was the very promise pledged by Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she visited Saudi Arabia in May 2006 during a meeting with the Filipino community at the Philippine Embassy.”
The Philippine Consulate in Saudi Arabia without a labor attaché’ is troubling that only shows the inept and numbing coldness of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration. This is the height of stupidity to say the least when most if not all of its citizens are workers. If this is true, this should explain why we hear of cases of contract switching once our OFWs arrived in these places because they don’t even assign the right people to fill those patronage based positions.

Is there hope? We can only hope against hope but first we need to figure out pronto how to help the likes of OFW Ryan Torres Anievas facing 5 to 15 years in jail for a crime he is a victim not the perpetrator. There are 5, 000 OFWs incarcerated in the Middle East jails and how many are guilty of the crimes they are accused of cannot be determined due to the Philippine governments' insensitivity to the plight of the sectors they only see as their milking cow. On the brighter side a bill was filed by House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, that aims to expand the scope and upgrade the program of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide full legal assistance to our migrant workers and overseas Filipinos in distress, amending Republic Act No. 8042 or the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.” The question is will it pass and unless we urge our representatives and senators to pass this, our OFWs will not have a fighting chance against the injustices they face in foreign lands with strange culture and bizarre justice system.

Your signature may spell the difference in support of a kababayan (countryman) in need, please sign the petition now, Oplan Saving Kabayan Ryan to demand legal representation for OFW Ryan Anievas.

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