Show political will to save 78 OFWs on death row, gov’t urged

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 December) — The Aquino government needs to show political will in an effort to save the 78 recorded overseas Filipino workers facing the death penalty, a migrants’ organization said Monday.

Three of the condemned OFWs are from Davao Region, according to the Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions Inc.

Of the 78 OFWs who are facing executions, 21 are in China, 29 are in the Middle East, 24 are in Malaysia, two are in the US, and one each in Indonesia and Thailand.

Speaking in Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, MMCEAI executive director Inorisa Elento said one of them was arrested as drug mule in China while the remaining two were accused of killing their employers in the Middle East.

She said the government must protect lives of the OFWs who are seeking greener pastures abroad to provide for their families.

She added they came to know about the three OFWs from Davao Region when their families sought their assistance after they were sentenced to death.

Elento said one way the government can protect its people abroad is to keep track of how many Filipinos are working abroad and monitor their conditions in their workplaces.

She alleged that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) doesn’t know the exact number of OFWs in any given country.

She said government should show concern for its people abroad to prevent abuses against them.

She also encouraged those who are planning to go abroad to do their share in protecting themselves from harm by involving their families in their plans to work overseas.

She added the community also has its share in protecting its people by knowing how many OFWs go abroad.

She said the government and the OFWs must prepare for their reintegration when they return home by having enough savings and planning where to invest their money.

Elento recommended to the government to come up with a profile of the OFWs indicating their destinations abroad.

Judith Reyes, a former OFW for two decades, said she didn’t get enough support from OWWA when she was working in the Middle East.

She was imprisoned in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from May to October 2009 after her employer failed to pay for her residence certificate for two years without her knowledge.

Reyes worked in Saudi Arabia as tailor from 1995 to 2011. She also worked in Kuwait from 1992 to 2004.

On December 16, the MMCEAI will hold a stakeholders forum at the city council to tackle issues concerning OFWs.

Among the topics is the implementation of City Ordinance 056-08, also known as OFW Center Ordinance, which has long been delayed since its passage on April 11, 2008.

The OFW Center is under the City Mayor’s Office. One of its functions is to keep records and profiles of OFWs. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)