May 16, 2008
Malacanang should report status of efforts to save OFWs on Death Row – Migrante ME
An alliance of Overseas Filipino Workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today said the Arroyo administration should report updates of its efforts to saving the lives of OFWs on death row.
“In pursuit of transparency, the Arroyo administration should reveal to the public the status of its efforts, if there are any, in saving the lives of OFWs on death row especially those in Kuwait whose verdict has been affirmed by the host government’s High Court such as the case of OFWs May Vecina and Jakatia Pawa,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East regional coordinator.
“The efforts undertaken, if there are any, by Arroyo administration in saving the lives of OFWs on death row is public interest. Thus, the public, especially OFWs, has the right to know if its government is doing and exerting the needed efforts to save their lives,” Monterona added.
On May 13, 2008, local media reported that Kuwait Court of First Instance handed down the death verdict of another OFW Bienvenido Espino Jr. for stabbing his alleged erstwhile girlfriend Jhias Gumapac to death on Oct 30 near a bakery in Salmiya , Kuwait thus adding him to an estimated 26 OFWs on death row in the entire Middle East .
Based on 2006 foreign media reports, Kuwait has executed a total estimate of 71 people, three of them women, since its first use of the death penalty some four decades ago. Most have been convicted murderers or drug traffickers.
On its web site, the World Coalition Against Death Penalty, which is spearheading a global campaign against death penalty, reported that in Saudi Arabia there are like 150 plus were beheaded last year and 78 of them are foreigners.
Migrante’s Monterona said that in Kuwait alone, there are now three (3) fellow OFWs on death row: OFWs Espino Jr. and Pawa whose conviction by Kuwait lower Court is under review by its High Court, while OFW Vecina’s conviction has already been affirmed with finality by Kuwait High Court early April 2008.
The Emir of Kuwait has two months to sign and act on the court's decision. Within this period, the Philippine government can exert diplomatic means and personal appeals for compassion to spare Vecina from death.
“Migrante has spearheaded a signature campaign and petition letter last month to save OFW Vecina in co-ordination with Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), a Hong Kong based migrant non-government organization and have gathered 70 organizations and 40 migrant leaders from 20 countries and territories, and 3 regional organizations’ alliances. The petition letter has been sent by fax to Kuwait ’s Emir on May 9, 2008,” Monterona said.
“We are closely keeping an eye on OFW Vecina’s case and other OFWs whose conviction are already final and executory; we will tightly observe the actions to be undertaken by the Arroyo administration especially that Mrs. Arroyo herself had promised last year to intervene on OFW Vecina’s case and other 25 OFWs in death row. We sill see if Mrs. Arroyo now will be true to her words as she is perceived to break her own promises.” Monterona added.
“Fellow OFWs and families have enough reasons to be vigilant and alarmed on the Arroyo administration’ s handling on the cases of OFWs in death row as they have already witnessed, not only once but several times, the hanging of fellow OFWs such as of Flor Contemplacion in Singapore and Reynaldo Cortez in Saudi Arabia, among the many whose death have not been publicized especially in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other countries in the Middle East.
The OFW leader ended saying that Migrante, OFWs and families would not want to see a repeat of Flor Contemplacion and Reynaldo Cortez in the coming months; thus, OFWs’ vigilance and concerted actions to compel the remiss Arroyo administration to do its job conscientiously and earnestly is deemed necessary to save the life of OFW Vecina and other OFWs who are in death row. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012