Friday, December 10, 2010

After 2 years in Malaysian jail, OFW returns home

After spending two years in jail for drug trafficking, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) returned to the Philippines from Malaysia in time for Christmas.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz welcomed home Zhara Ventura upon arrival at the airport, according to an article posted Friday on the Philippine government portal.

"Ventura, a 30-year old single mother from Manduriao, Iloilo, arrived on Sunday on a Cebu Pacific flight. Her ticket was bought for her by Hassan Gabra Jumdain, Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) attaché to Kuala Lumpur," the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) article said. 

DOLE said that upon arrival, Ventura took a connecting flight to Iloilo to rejoin her family."

The DOLE said the ordeal of Ventura, a medical technology undergraduate, started in August 2008.

At the time, she was lured to Malaysia by Nigerian Paulo Dionisio Mendes, who eventually became her live-in partner.

The Nigerian regularly sent Ventura on errands to Bangkok, and even as far as China, to deliver sealed packages to his friends.

"Unknown to Zhara, these packages contained illegal drugs," the DOLE said.

A police raid on the couple's condo unit on September 8, 2008 led to her arrest. She was jailed on November 11 of that year.

Last November 20, Jumdain received a call from the supervising prison officer of the Langkap Perak Depot where Ventura was transferred and told him she will be released to the custody of the Philippine Embassy if a one-way ticket to the Philippines is provided. Jumdain promised the ticket.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa napakalaking tulong n’yo sa akin. Ito na po ang pinakamaligayang pasko ko at makakapiling ko na sa wakas ang aking pamilya (I thank you for your help. This is my happiest Christmas, being with my family at last)," Ventura wrote Jumdain after her release.

Upon her arrival in Iloilo, Ventura was received by her family and by the officials and employees of the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration who are now extending her utmost protection.

“We don’t have plans yet for our sister Zhara ... We will give her a little more time to savor her freedom," said her sister Felmar. — LBG, GMANews.TV

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