Group to Aquino: Appeal for the commutation of 79 OFWs in China’s death row, 120 in various countries

A FILIPINO migrant’s rights group on Sunday urged the Aquino administration to start appealing to the Chinese government the commutation of other 79 OFWs on China-death row and also save the other 120+ in other countries.

The group made the call after the Chinese government stay the execution of three Filipinos in China sentenced to death on cases of  drug trafficking   as announced by Vice-President Jejomar Binay during his visit in China on Friday.
John Leonard Monterona, the Saudi-based Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said: “The Aquino govt. should waste no time to start, as early as this time, appealing to the Chinese government the commutation of the other 79 OFWs on China-death row, and also the 120+ in other countries,”.

Monterona said the government used to work and give its ‘best shot’ at the last minute in saving the lives of OFWs on death row, but this is not a game. “Obviously, every case of OFWs on death row must be regarded a matter of ‘life and death’,” Monterona, said.

“The case of the 3 OFWs, who were supposed to be executed on Monday and Tuesday, is a bitter reality to confront; efforts to save OFWs whose cases are punishable by death should start from the time a proper case had been filed and hiring the best legal defense team the government could provide, noting that most were victims of international drug syndicates” Monterona added.

Monterona suggested a national campaign, involving all concerned government agencies -to prevent OFWs being victimized by international drug traffickers and syndicates, must be initiated, immediately, by the national government.

“The Foreign affairs department and various Philippine posts abroad must be ready to do its share in the campaign against drug trafficking and syndicates by swapping information and forge cooperation with the host government to combat this drug menace victimizing our dear OFWs,” Monterona, said.

OFWs on Saudi-death row

Migrante is presently handling the cases of eight (8) OFWs in death row and 121 in jail (13 of which are drug-related cases).

Monterona recalled the October 2008 execution of 27 year-old Venancio Ladion, alias Jennifer Bidoya, in Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of a Saudi national in 2005. OFW Bidoya maintained that it was pure self defense that pushed him to unintentional killing of the Saudi who allegedly attempted to rape him.

Monterona claimed OFW Bidoya did not receive legal assistance, and was only provided an interpreter and not a lawyer during the early stages of the trial. He added Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the incumbent President then, merely sent a letter to the Saudi king to appeal for Bidoya’s commutation. “Too late to save him from execution,” he lamented.

Since 2005, six (6) OFWs whose cases they have handled have been executed via beheading, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

The group said  five other OFWs executed were all from Saudi Arabia. They were Antonio Alvesa, Sergio Aldana, Miguel Fernandez, Wilfredo Bautista and Reynaldo Cortez.-D’Jay Lazaro

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