Group launches ‘Save the lives of OFWs in death row’

GLOBAL alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International together with church groups and migrants’ advocates on Friday launched  the “Save the Lives of OFWs in death row” alliance through a candle-lighting activity held at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in Quezon City.

Participants in the activity called on “all concerned citizens to light a candle in front of their houses for all OFWs in death row starting tonight until Monday.”

The group also renewed calls for the Philippine government to exert any and all efforts to save the lives of three Filipinos on death row in China and 125 other OFWs who received death sentences elsewhere in the world.

According to Migrante’s monitoring, apart from Sally Villanueva, Elizabeth Batain and Ramon Credo who are facing impending execution in China, there are currently 125 OFWs in death row. Of the 125, 85 are drug-related and 79 of these are in China jails. The rest are in the Middle East, Malaysia and Thailand.

Migrante is presently handling the cases of eight (8) OFWs in death row and 121 in jail (13 of which are drug-related cases). According to Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, since 2005, six (6) OFWs whose cases they have handled have been executed via beheading.

“Iisa ang sinasabi ng lahat ng mga OFWs at pamilya, kulang na kulang ang pag-asikaso ng gobyerno. Worse, our government has not been very transparent in their processes of providing assistance and negotiations. In the case of the drug mules in China death row, we have brought these to the attention of the government as early as February last year. Ngayon, tila naghahabol ang gobyerno natin kung kailan malapit na ang araw ng pagbibitay,” said Martinez.

Martinez likened the cases of Villanueva, Batain and Credo to Flor Contemplacion’s case in 1995 wherein the government’s late reaction led to the execution of the Filipina domestic worker.

“We do not want another Flor Contemplacion. Sixteen years after Contemplacion’s death, the situation of our OFWs has gone from bad to worse and our very own government is largely to blame.”

The migrant leader blamed past and present administrations’ “labor export policy”. “Our Filipino workers will always be subjected to these tragedies for as long as the government sticks to promoting labor export policy unmindful of the welfare and protection of our OFWs. Unless the government creates enough decent jobs at home to curb forced migration, it will always be responsible for every life that is threatened, endangered or lost.”


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