150 OFWs get amnesty from Saudi
DOHA―The Qatari government will likely pardon two of the three Filipino workers who were convicted of espionage and economic sabotage here, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Sunday.
He also announced the return of 150 distressed Filipino workers today, April 17, after they were granted amnesty by King Salman Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia who likewise sent a plane for their repatriation.
Bello said that while President Rodrigo Duterte would be appealing to Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Al Thani for the three Filipino workers who were convicted of alleged spying for the Filipino government, only two of them would likely be pardoned.
“I was informed that out of the three, the possibility of pardon will be good for the two,” Bello told reporters.
Bello said that the pardon was “more probable” for “Ulep” and “Alamarez” who were technicians in the Qatari Air Force who had been given lighter sentences.
The two, along with “Chua Tan,” an employee of a Qatari state-owned company, were previously lined up for the death penalty but had their court sentences reduced following an appeal by the previous administration.
In 2014, a Qatari court lowered the sentence for the two workers from death to just 15 years’ imprisonment. Chua Tan’s sentence was lowered to life imprisonment.
They have been charged with espionage and economic sabotage after allegedly passing on Qatar’s military and economic secrets. Manila has already denied spying on Qatar.
Bello said President Rodrigo Duterte would be meeting with 150 Filipino workers as he wrapped up his three-country swing to the Middle East.
“150 Filipino workers who will be leaving today at 12 noon [Saudi Arabia] time and will arrive in Manila at 3:30 a.m. in time for the arrival of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Bello said.
Some 74 Filipinos, including 14 children who are residing at the Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, will be part of the repatriated workers along with 51 male wards from Esteraha and 25 walk-in Filipinos.
Bello said the King would shoulder the expenses of an expected 200 returning Filipinos through the state-owned Saudia Airlines.
He remains optimistic that more distressed Filipino workers will be able to avail themselves of the amnesty program.