'Falsely accused' Pinay in Saudi walks free after serving sentence
An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) — Melanie Cordon — whom human rights groups said was "falsely accused" of stealing her employer's unwashed underwear in Saudi Arabia, has been released after serving a four-month sentence, an international human rights group said on Wednesday.
The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said Cordon was arrested over accusations of theft on August 14 last year, was never given a chance to defend herself and was tried in absentia.
"While Melanie appears to have been well treated by the prison officials, a fact for which everyone is very grateful, she now returns to the Philippines to a doubtful future," AHRC said.
The group accused Philippine government authorities of lack of attention on Cordon's case. GMA News Online has tried to reach the Department of Foreign Affairs but it has yet to reply.
"The lack of attention and action by the government of the Philippines and especially Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs serves as an appalling indictment of their lack of commitment to the OFWs who bring in millions of dollars in revenue annually," the AHRC said on its website.
The AHRC said Cordon was released on December 14 and will return to the Philippines free and well but she will have a criminal record to her name.
The AHRC said Cordon was arrested on August 14 last year after being accused of theft by the mother of her employer.
Cordon claimed that when she came to retrieve her belongings before going back to the Philippines, she found out that her suitcase had been opened and examined by a woman police officer.
Some items belong to her employer's mother, including an unwashed underwear, which Cordon said she had never seen before, were found in her luggage, the AHRC said.
"After being tried in absentia Melanie was convicted and sentenced to four months imprisonment in Ha'il Main Prison. Despite assurances from the Philippine Embassy and Mr. Raul Hernandez of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila no assistance of any kind was provided and the only advice the embassy officer could give was that she should simply serve out her sentence," the AHRC said. - VVP, GMA News