Saturday, November 15, 2008

April 28, 2008

OFW who died in Saudi cell changed name for backdoor exit
04/28/2008 01:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Filipino who died in a Jeddah deportation cell earlier this month was not endorsed by the consulate after using a different name in preparation for a 'backdoor exit.

'This was the clarification of Philippine Consul General Ezzedin Tago after several militant groups blamed the officials there for the death of 30-year-old Ryan Castillo inside the Jeddah deportation center on April 6.According to Tago, Castillo used a false name when he went to the deportation facility on his own volition, making it difficult for them to find out his condition.

"When we received a call, we immediately sent our people to check up on him. He was rushed to the hospital but he already lost his vital signs there," Tago said.An umbrella organization of Filipinos in Jeddah came to the defense of Tago in the incident.Kapulungan ng Samahang Pilipino (KASAPI) Congress asserted that Tago was unaware of Castilo’s plight inside the deportation cell especially since the OFW was using a different name.

"We should not blame these incidents to the Philippine Consulate since Ryan Castillo used another name inside the facility," Jouhari Usman, a member of KASAPI defended.Tago meanwhile assured that the Philippine consulate is exerting all efforts to repatriate Castillo’s remains as soon as possible.

Backdoor exitTago explained that most runaway OFWs from different parts of Saudi Arabia flock Jeddah’s holding facility in the belief that it’s easier to undergo the deportation process there through a ‘backdoor exit.’

The backdoor exit is an illegal means of deportation in Saudi Arabia where an OFW changes his/her Christian name to a Muslim one to assume that he or she was stranded there after the Islamic pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah.Since there is a yearly repatriation for Muslim pilgrims who overstayed, some OFWs take this opportunity to become backdoor deportees.(For more information click this link.)

"We do not immediately know the situation of OFWs who use a different name until the Saudi deportation authorities finishes their investigation and ask us through an official letter to issue the necessary travel documents," Tago explained. Even if consulate officials go to the deportation centers daily to list the names of the Filipino deportees, however,

Tago said that other OFWs will just write an ‘assumed name.’"They do not write their real names fearing that we will turn them in to Saudi authorities which we never do. Some of those who have illnesses also do not tell us their health condition," he said.Militant groups like Migrante-Middle East scored Tago and other Philippine officials in Jeddah for neglecting the plight of the stranded Filipinos in the oil-rich country.

With the death of Castillo, the group also calls for the replacement of all Philippine embassy and consulate officials in Jeddah. According to Nhel Morona, secretary-general of Migrante-United Arab Emirates, there are 2,000 more distressed and abused OFWs awaiting repatriation in the Middle East.- Ronaldo Concha, GMANews.TV

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