Because his surname happens to be the middle initial of an international fugitive, Jason Vivar Aguilar has been detained for seven days, blacklisted from employment in Qatar, and deported from that country.
Aguilar set off to the Middle East to work there as a welder. He is the youngest of five siblings residing in Pandukot, Calumpit, Bulacan. “Bago ako umalis dito, punong-puno ako ng pangarap noon para po sa pamilya ko kaya po malakas ang loob kong mag-abroad.”
Aguilar’s departure coincided with the day the son of a presidential staff was killed. That must have been among of the reasons why the Qatari officials believed Aguilar was the man they’re looking for. It didn’t help that the two Jasons have the same birthdates. It also didn’t help that any man could resort to his kinship in his flight from justice.
The Qatari officials proceeded to arrest Aguilar during the New Year’s Eve last year. They did not tell him why. The experience traumatized him who admitted ‘ill feelings’ toward those who had arrested him.
“Di po mawawala sa akin ‘yun. Kinulong po nila ako, nasira po nila mga pangarap ko. Sana magdusa naman po si Jason Ivler sa kanyang ginawang kasalanan.”
An honest mistake
Call it what you may. But it wouldn’t change the fact that Jason Aguilar has been treated like a criminal for more than a week.
Or that his work visa was canceled. He was blacklisted and would have to deal with debts he had owed during the processing of his overseas employment.
Yet all he wished for is an apology. “Kasi po pagkatao po ang nasira dito, karangalan ko. Nananahimik po akong nagtatrabaho tapos bigla-bigla na lang po akong makukulong ng wala namang kasalanan. Gusto ko po talagang mag-sorry kung sino yung dapat mag-sorry.”
Angelito Magno, chief of the Special Action Unit of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), responded to his plea. “Jason, we are very sorry for the incident that happened to you. We feel sorry. In fact, sinabi ko nga doon sa kapatid mo at mga kamag-anak mo na nagpunta sa opisina ko, ay isang masaklap na pangyayari itong nadaanan mo. And because of that, maari pa nga, sinasabi ng iba, ay biktima ka din ni Jason Ivler dahil sa paghahanap sa kanya, pati ang pangalan mo ay nadamay.”
Even the father of the victim Jason Aguilar was thought to have killed apologized. “Masasabi natin sorry na lang sa mga pangyayari pero andyan kami tutulong sa iyo,” Renato Ebarle Sr., presidential assistant secretary during the Arroyo administration, was reported saying.
Cresente Relacion, the country’s ambassador to Qatar, said sorry too after defending himself. “We were not informed. In fact, we made an inquiry about the incident. On January 6, we received an inquiry from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) inquiring whether a certain Jason Ivler was arrested in Qatar… “In general, [Qatar] they would not inform the country of that national about the arrest except if the country has a bilateral consular agreement.” Relacion was on a vacation when that inquiry happened.
Relacion promised to file a formal protest to the Qatari authorities ‘once we receive that [documents from Manila’s Interpol stating that it was a case of mistaken identity]. He also needs a clearance from the NBI or the Quezon City Police Department stating that the OFW was not the Jason Aguilar Ivler in the Interpol Red Notice.
Is it possible that the country’s representative in a foreign land forgot to rectify an honest mistake? Former labor undersecretary Susan Ople could only pity Jason Aguilar who is entitled to legal and other forms of assistance from the Philippine embassy under the Migrant Workers’ Act.
"If the person involved was well connected, sabihin na natin had a more famous last name or had the means to hire lawyers, this would have been a totally different ball game. Magkakandarapa ang mga opisyal ng gubyerno just to accommodate, and explain, and say sorry.”
“Yun ang punto namin, here's an honest working simple OFW napahamak ng wala naman siyang kaalam-alam, nasira ang pangalan sa abroad pa, na-deport dito and all he's waiting for, all he's asking, sino ba ang dapat mag-sorry? Sino ba ang nagkamali? Ok na yung tulong. Pero sino ba talaga yung nagkamali para hindi na maulit muli.”
“They should put it in writing. Even the apology maybe should be in writing. Malinaw kasi Jan. 4 alam na nila and he was in jail until Jan 7. Had the DFA been informed, I'm sure the embassy could have sent someone right away to clear up the mess and then he could've worked, he could've continue working.”
The Philippine government promised to somehow compensate to Aguilar.
For one, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) would assist Aguilar if he wants to work abroad again. The POEA would also provide a livelihood assistance for Aguilar while he is undergoing psychosocial counseling and stress debriefing sessions.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), on the other hand, would shoulder the debts Aguilar owed to get to Qatar. It found out that the Multisystem Conexions Intl. Inc. (MCII) had swindled him for the processing fees. He was also asked to pay in four months more than what he would get in his monthly salary in Qatar.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga filed House Resolution 1558 asking the Lower House to probe on what happened to Jason Aguilar. It remained a resolution.
The parish priest of Pandukot in Calumpit personally went to the airport to vouch for Aguilar. Father Jojit Sayas also appealed to Ivler to surrender as well as to the latter’s family to urge Ivler to face the charges he had.
But what about the Qatari government? Don’t they have a say on this? There was no report on that till now. Even if the incident was an honest mistake, it still is one. Jason Aguilar just deserves the five-letter word.
Read a copy of the RA 8042.
This is how Jason Aguilar and Jason Ivler look like.