7 Pinoy prisoners in Maldives pardoned, come home

Posted at 08/19/2010 9:59 AM | Updated as of 08/20/2010 3:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Seven overseas Filipinos imprisoned in the Maldives for credit card theft have returned to the country after being granted a presidential pardon, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported Thursday.

The DFA said the 7 were found guilty of credit card theft and using the stolen cards to purchase goods worth US$60,000 in February 2009. They were meted the maximum penalty of 63 years and 11 months but the court later reduced the penalty to 25 years imprisonment.

The DFA said it sought avenues for the release and deportation of the 7 Filipinos through the recently-approved “Clemency Law,” which empowers the President to grant pardons to prisoners.

Philippine Ambassador to Dhaka Bahnarim Guinomla said the 7 Filipinos were released on condition that they do not return to Maldives during the initial sentence period of 25 years.

They arrived in Manila on August 13, and were met at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by representatives of the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

The wife of one of the repatriates sent a letter to the Philippine Embassy thanking them for their efforts to secure the pardon for her husband.
 
“On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you for all the help you have done for them [repatriates].  And also to the good Ambassador Rabago for being an instrument for their early repatriation,” she said.
 
“It was a painful experience, but great lessons would be learned from this.  We are looking forward and putting this bad experience behind us.  We are thankful for a second chance and grateful for a new beginning,” the wife added.