Joselito “Lolito” Alejo was born on April 26, 1958 in Bulacan, Philippines. In 1980, at the very young age of 22, Joselito started working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a trailer truck driver. Things went well for Joselito until July 30, 1997 when he was wrongfully accused of killing a Saudi Policeman.
The Dark Years
Being the breadwinner, all Joselito dreamt for his family trampled on the ground. He suffered emotional, psychological and physical pain while he languished in jail. His father died upon reading an irresponsible newspaper that his son would be beheaded. Joselito was detained for more than 5 years without a court hearing. There was no embassy official who tried follow-up on his case.
May isang embassy official na bumisita sa akin noong 2000. Parang nabigyan ako ng pag-asa dahil for the first time 3 years may bumisita na taga embassy sa amin. Akala ko lang pala yon. Noong tinawag nya ang pangalan ko ito ang tinanong nya sa akin, “Joselito Alejo anong lahi ang napatay mo?”. Sinagot ko sya “Sir wala akong napatay”. Sabi naman nya “Wag na natin pahabain ang usapan, ano ba ang lahi ng napatay mo”. Umalis ako at baka ano pa ang masabi ko sa official na yon. Bakit kaya sila ganun ?
Conversion to Islam
Joselito studied the Holy Quran while he was in Jail and embraced Islam when he fully understood the teachings of Prophet Mohammad. He then won a couple of awards in Holy Quran reading competition in Al Malaz Jail.
“Yon yong time na winala ko ang galit ko sa mundo at sinabi ko kay Allah. Sa haba ng panahon ng paghihintay ko na mabigyan ng pag-asa at katarungan ang kaso ko. Ano man ang dahilan sa pagsubok na ito. Sinusuko ko na po sa Inyo lahat ang aking buhay, patatawarin ko lahat ng nagpahamak sa akin at kahit ano pa ang mangyayari sa akin ay ipinaubaya ko na sa Inyo.”
An Unexpected Light
While in Al Malaz Prizon, he kept busy by working and accepting laundry from other inmates of other nationalities. He is also one of the trusted inmate in cleaning the offices in prison. He had no news about his case: “Embassy officials visited only three times in four years and said they knew nothing.”
After almost five years, the newly appointed director of Malaz prison, Colonel Muhana helped Joselito with his case, which apparently had been forgotten. The director found the case file in the police station where Joselito was first detained and interrogated.
“Si Col. Muhana talaga ang tumulong sa akin sya ang nagcheck doon sa files ko sa police station at sya ang naging daan na mabuksan ang kasong ito. Saka lang naman nagpakita ang embassy noong magkakahearing na ako”
Joselito appeared in court for the first time on June 11, 2002 and in August 2002, Joselito Alejo and 2 others were acquitted of the crime. The judge apparently accepted that Joselito was telling the truth before the court but he had to receive a number of lashes for signing a false statement during the interrogation process in 1997. Joselito reiterated that he was made to sign that Arabic document to stop the mistreatment inflicted on him.
The two others were given the same number of lashes for not informing the authorities about their knowledge of the crime.
“Swerte nga sila at dahil sa pagtulong ni Col Muhana sa kaso ay nasama sila dahil iisang kaso lang kami. Noong una kaming nagkita at nagkausap sa Al Malaz jail ay kinausap ko sila kung bakit nila ako dinawit sa kasalanang hindi ko ginawa. Humingi naman sila ng tawad at pinatawad ko na sila noong sinuko ko na lahat kay Allah.”
After his release from prison, Joselito was under the custody of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh for 9 months. He met Dr. Ma. Teresa Buendia of Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital. The two got married on November 12, 2003 in Manila, Philippines. The couple then returned, worked and lived together in Riyadh, KSA since 2005.
Joselito had 2 daughters from previous relationships but he was not legally married to any woman.
As Public Servants
Joselito and Dr. Tess are kind-hearted individuals and had helped a lot people with their problems. They are also good counselors and advisers to the young Filipinos working in Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital.
“Silang mag-asawa ang nagligtas ng buhay ko. Noong may malubha akong karamdaman ay dyan ako nakatira sa kanilang pamamahay at inalagaan nila ako. Mga apat na buwan ako nilang kinukupkop at inaalagaan. Tumutulong talaga sila sa kapwa. Ngayon nakabalik na ako sa pagmamaneho.” -Armando Tantengko
“Ang bait nina kuya at ate sa amin at ang turing nila sa amin ay parang kapamilya nila. Sabi ko nga kay kuya ay hindi namin alam kung papano namin sila mababayaran sa kanilang kabaitan at pag-aruga sa amin. Hindi kayang bilhin ng pera yong bagay na ginawa nila sa buhay namin.” – Redentor Padua
“Pangdadag sa sinabi ni Reden, isa din sa napakagandang bagay na nagawa ni kuya lito sa amin ay yong mga pangaral sa buhay. Hindi namin makakalimutan sina kuya at ate kahit saan man kami mapunta mananatili sa akin yong kabutihang ginawa nila para sa amin.” – Ronelo Jaime
Fighting for His Rights
In August 2007, Balitang Middle East aired the segment “Pangakong Napako“. The segment featured Joselito’s sentiments about his ordeal and the failed promises of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The CMA-OFW-SOS-KSA saw the segment and had arranged a meeting with Joselito which took place in January 2008. The group told Joselito about his right for compensation based on the Articles 210 and 217 of the Law of Criminal Procedure of Saudi Arabia.
Article 210: Any acquittal judgment pursuant to a petition for reconsideration must, if the convicted person so requests, include moral and material compensation to mitigate the damage suffered by him.
Article 217: If a convicted person is sentenced to a term of imprisonment and has already served part of that term while being detained in connection with the case that has been adjudicated, the period of such detention shall be deducted from the term of imprisonment imposed on the accused.
An accused person, who has been harmed as a result of malicious accusation or as a result of being detained or imprisoned for a period exceeding the term prescribed for such detention or imprisonment, shall be entitled to compensation.
In February 17, 2008, Joselito met with HRH Prince Salman in the Riyadh Governor’s Palace. The good governor advised one of his staff to assist Joselito in the process of filing for compensation.
“Noong nakaharap at nakausap ko si Prince Salman, sa kanyang palace. Nawala lahat ng hinanakit na nasa kalooban ko ng matagal. At kung ipagkaloob ni Allah yong compensation wala na akong hihilingin pa. May mabait at mabuti akong asawa at napatunayan ko na sa sarili na naipaglaban ko ang aking karapatan.”
As of this writing, Joselito is in the final stage of getting his compensation from the Saudi government.
While in Al Malaz Jail Joselito kept a notebook where he wrote all his original poems in Tagalog. Those poems were published by Mr. Enrico Luga in this website
Si Kabayan(Ang may sala)
(One of Mr. Joselito Alejo’s Poems)
Ako’y naririto sa kulungan ng Arabo
Dahil sa kagagawan ng mga Kabayan ko
Anong Sakit naman
Kung pagsubok man ito
Baka hindi ko kayanin
Masira ang aking ulo
Tanong sa May-kapal
Bakit sa aki’y nangyari ito
Ay di ko naman kaso
Ang abang pamilya ko
Ako ay nagtatrabaho
Napakasakit ang nangyari
Sa akin doon sa Saudi…
Napakasakit na isipin
Tulungan niyo po ako…
Embahada ng Pinas
Natin dito’y walang silbi
Problema ng tao
Di naman asikaso
Kung minsan pa nga
Ang isasagot sa ‘yo
Wala tayong magagawa
Pagkat yan ang batas dito…
Kaming mga Pinoy
Na nakakulong dito
Kung minamalas ka ay…
Pugot pa ang iyong ulo…
Drafted by: Tasio Espiritu for anginyonglingkod.com
Joselito Alejo was inducted to Anginyonglingkod last 2008