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OFW Support Group KGS Arrested & Detained in Saudi Arabia

Saudi police raided the safe house of Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS or Brotherhood in the Middle East) a member-organization of Migrante-Middle East where distressed and abused OFW runaways seek refuge. Migrante-ME coordinator John Monterona in a press release stated the following developments:
“We confirm that the safe house of KGS, a member organization of Migrante, where distress and run away OFWs are temporarily seeking refuge was raided by the local police last Friday at about 3:00 p.m.,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Monterona said KGS was conducting its regular weekly case dialogs and counseling to OFW victims of maltreatment and abuses who ran away from their employers.

Monterona said ten (10) of its officers and member, and 3 service workers have been sent to Bahdiya Police Station in Riyadh for investigation. While the (5) distress OFW women were brought to Malaz Jail.

“KGS Officers and members have been giving advises to run away and distress OFWs before they will be formally endorse to POLO-OWWA as part of its rights and welfare assistance program (RWAP),” Monterona added.

This is very disturbing news indeed when people who cares and acts as support group are treated like criminals for helping their fellow men especially those abused and distressed migrant workers who have no one to turn to in their trying times of despair. Although we cannot ascertain if this is a case of criminalizing good Samaritans I cannot understand why the Saudi authorities have not released all of the "accused" once they learned that they were support groups for distressed and abused migrant workers.

In the latest news reported by Veronica Uy of Inquirer Global nation it appears that the group was arrested on suspicion of violating the kingdom’s “cultural law” prohibiting unmarried men and women from congregating. A quote from Veronica Uy’s report titled OFWs detained for violating Arab culture law:

At the same time, Migrante-Middle East coordinator John Leonard Monterona said three of those detained have already been released to the custody of their employers. They are: Binang Jilhano, a certain Jams, and Eric Jocson, who was arrested with his three-year-old son.

While some have already been freed, the rest continue to be detained without charges being filed against them.

Monterona identified the rest who are still in jail as Mario F. Ben, Mike Garlan, Lito Fedelino, Ronilo Reyes, and Rustico Marcos. He said they are members of Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS or Brotherhood in the Middle East), a member-organization of Migrante-Middle East.

He identified the distressed or runaway workers who were arrested with the KGS members as: Rey Balagtas, Elvira De Guzman, Clemia Corpus, Sarah Gumansing, Rosa Salazar, and Amauri Meris.
As if the news is not bad enough wherein good Samaritans are criminalized it gets worse when you read the response of ignoramuses whose mindset of divisiveness and hatred blaming the victims just makes you wonder what have become of our people in the Philippines. Instead of sympathy and support they blame those who are arrested blaming them for violating Saudi laws without even knowing all the pertinent details of the case. What a sorry excuse of a human being displaying this kind of behavioral aberration that is really disturbing and yet it does not surprise us anymore because this is clearly a manifestation of a sick society brought about by endemic corruption.

In one of the response which I find troubling and I am hoping against hope that this is not accurate because it really shows the ugly side of some people. Why in the name of gourmet pigging out president will a fellow countryman wish their own people to get in trouble with Saudi Police and the risk of incarceration in Middle East jails where horrific experience awaits them? It appears according to Red7’s response at Global nation that a fellow Filipino reported to the police that a “party” was going on at the safe house. Although there was a Videoke singing going on no alcohol was found at the premise, the women were at another room wearing their abaya’s but just the same they were rounded up and hauled to jail. Whoever reported them ought to know better the consequence of their action but then again there are insensitive people not even thinking simply because they are incapable of using their brains if ever they do have one.

This reminds me of a post here at Pedestrian Onserver GB on Men raping Men which I quote below:

In Jean P. Sasson's book "Princess a true story of life behind the veil in Saudi Arabia", we are able to see a glimpse of perverted mindset in a society living in the past with too much money and idle time. This is a society trapped in time desperately hanging on to the tribal culture of the middle ages in the way they treat their women and the cruelty of men against their women. In it we see a society where men can decide to end the lives of their women that are seen as a possession whose purpose in life is to satisfy and give birth in the propagation of their clan.

There is one particular horrible story that was in the book and this is about the maid of the Princess named Marci a Filipina and her friend Madeline. Inspiring tale of courage and daring shown by Marci and Antoine one of the Princess Filipino driver who risked everything in locating a friend in distress. The risk and danger they took is almost good for a suspense movie script but this is one is real and dangerous. You had that yearning for a good ending but this is real life where the ending is not what one expects in a feel good movie.

They found Madeline alright in a dingy villa owned by a Yemeni who abused and used Madeline as one of her sex reliever to satisfy his dog like sex cravings. A family sex toy for the sons, trapped in a hell hole did her best to escape only to be returned by the villagers to her inhumane pervert “master”. Upon learning of her friend’s plight Marci was frantic did everything she could calling up the consulate only to be rebuffed with indifference and acceptance of helplessness. On her return to the Philippines she tried her best to present the problem of Madeline to their local politicians but no one lifted a finger. The sad part is her friend was not on speaking terms with her when her contract expired thinking she was abandoned by her friend. Why did they not complain to the police, the Princess inquired? Truly sickening when Marci replied that the police never listen to complains of Filipinos and a woman in a society where the words of a man is taken as absolute truth the chances of the victim thrown to jail is more likely to happen.

Meanwhile in Abu Dhabi it appears that they have “five runaway maids” (in one of the email from Curtis of streetwisephilippines3 a yahoo group) every week that the consulate has to convert their garage into make-shift dormitory to accommodate the swelling number of abused Filipinas. The best they can do or hope for is to get the employer to pay the woman's ticket home, never mind pressing charges or their salary. In a highly prejudicial society where woman are treated like commodities what more with “servants” and a woman at that has no chance of being heard in a court of law that is male superiority oriented.

Luckily for the professional OFWs as Curtis further stated has not been affected or victimized unlike those in the labor and domestic jobs, is it because they are easy targets in might is right society? What are we going to do about it? What is the government doing about it? How should we respond to all these barbaric treatment of our countrymen?
These are the fate of some runaway thus the assistance of support groups like KGS is vital when police and townspeople returns abused and stressed OFWs in slave like situation back to their abusive predatory employers. Support groups are very crucial in helping distressed OFWs who can’t trust anyone fearing being sent back or worse accused of trumped up charges by guilty employers to cover up for their misdeeds.

Update: 8/24/09

Dennis Carcamo reports Saudi police drop case vs 18 Filipinos, KGS secretary general Mike Garlan and member Rustico Marcos are expected to be released anytime soon who was in prison for 11 days. Runaway OFWs Clemia Corpuz, Rosa Salazar, Amauri Meriz and Reynaldo Balagtas will all be deported while two of the five detained OFWs -- Sarah Gumansing and Elvira De Guzman -- have already been released to their respective employers.

See also:
Our gluttonous, do-nothing leaders and languishing countrymen

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