abs-cbnNEWS.com | 11/21/2009 1:23 PM
MANILA – The coming Christmas will be a happy one for a family of an overseas Filipino worker who has not seen his wife and children for seven long years.
Jonathan "Jojo" Bigas arrived in Manila on Thursday morning on board Qatar Airways from Saudi Arabia.
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center said Bigas worked as a limousine driver in Saudi Arabia for five years and was jailed for two on a drug-related charge.
His Filipino passenger was caught with a package containing "shabu" sent to him from home via Saudi post office. The passenger was nabbed on the spot and sentenced to six years in prison. Bigas, who was waiting outside, was also arrested and sentenced to one year imprisonment.
However, the one year jail term stretched to two years and four months because he had no money to pay for his one-way ticket after the original ticket sent to him by his foreign employer expired in 2008 at the hands of police authorities.
The Ople Center intervened on behalf of Bigas and prompted the foreign affairs department to look into his case.
"This marks the first Christmas in seven years that Jojo and his family will be together. It is a happy occasion and an example of how important it is for government and civil society to keep working together for the benefit of our OFWs," said Susan Ople head of the Ople Center.
The former labor undersecretary said they fetched Bigas’ wife, Tess and her children from Pateros to welcome the OFW.
"Behind every remittance are real-life bittersweet stories, and we need to constantly remind ourselves about this. We really need to invest more in onsite services for people like Jonathan Bigas and so many others who face different forms of injustice in faraway places," said Ople.