Message failed

THE nerve of Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello to ask the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to spare convicted overseas Filipino workers from death penalty.

Bello, who chairs the House Committee Overseas Workers Affairs, has reportedly sent a formal letter of appeal to King Abdullah, reminding him of the “enlightened global public opinion” against the imposition of death penalty as a “grave violation of human dignity.” Specifically, Bello appealed on behalf of OFW Joselito Zapanta and Rodelio Lanuza who were both convicted for murder in the Kingdom. At present, the Philippine government is raising the required blood money to spare Zapanta’s and La-nuza’s lives.

Both Zapanta and Lanuza, if one may recall, have both killed their respective victims out of self-defense. But Zapanta further aggravated his offense under Islamic law when he even stole money and mobile phone of his Sudanese landlord,

Without delving on the merits of their cases , however, it comes so odd, to say the least, for Bello to appeal for King Abdullah’s sense of compassion and humanity, and much less, to lecture him on how he should implement the Islamic law in his own Kingdom.

Bello, last time I checked, re-mains to be very critical of the Saudi government, notably of its labor policy towards OFWs. He has writ-ten several articles harshly critici-zing the Kingdom about the prevalence of sexual abuses committed against women in the hands of Saudis. Sometime last year, Bello embarked on a fact-finding mission in Saudi Arabia and reported to Congress the pitiful plight of Filipino household service workers or domestic helpers like maids, garde-ners, drivers and the like.
In that report, Bello portrayed the Kingdom as a “jungle” where Saudi nationals are sexual perverts who prey on these hapless Filipino domestic helpers who are purportedly expected to provide sexual pleasure to the heads of the Saudi household.

Make no mistake about it. I fully agree with Bello’s message that death penalty, especially by beheading, has become outlawed in many democratic societies to date and we should exert all efforts to save the lives of distressed Filipino workers abroad. But hey, our OFWs are no angels in as much as Saudis are not either. There are as many as good and bad people anywhere in the world.

What I find very discomforting is the fact that Bello who has always portrayed a grossly unfair misrepresentation not only of Saudi’s labor policy but also, most importantly, of the Saudi society in general is now appealing to spare convicted OFWs in the Kingdom.

The messenger is the message, as they say, and Bello is just the wrong messenger.

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