Saturday, June 04, 2005

5,168 jailed OFWs abandoned

Cristina Lee-Pisco
Friday, June 03, 2005 / 7:30:42 PM

THE Migrante International yesterday staged a protest rally in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Roxas Boulevard for neglecting the plight of 5,168 jailed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) all over the world, 19 of whom are on death row.

The Migrante also lambasted the Arroyo administration for playing a 'deaf, dumb and blind' to the problems of the OFWs abroad. "When it comes to OFWs in trouble, the Arroyo administration clearly plays 'deaf, dumb and blind' to their plight.

We demand she take decisive action and immediately intervene in the cases of imprisoned OFWs, especially those on death row.

It's completely unacceptable that she simply allows them to rot in foreign jails," Migrante International secretary general Maita Santiago said. Figures released by Migrante showed of the 5,168 jailed OFWs, 1,115 are in Saudi Arabia and of the 19 on death row, 13 are in Saudi Arabia.

Four of the 13 on death row have already been executed last March, the Migrante said. The Migrante cited the case of Bicolano Rey Cortez who was sentenced to death by a Saudi Arabian court after the family of a Pakistani cab driver he allegedly killed on May 2002 refused to accept the blood money.

Santiago explained the case of Cortez should have been raised by the President when Pakistani President Perez Musharaff visited the country last month. The other day, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo ordered the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to exhaust all legal options to save Cortez from death sentence.

Romulo also instructed embassy officials in Islamabad, Pakistan to convince the family of the Pakistani victim to accept compensation or blood money to commute the death sentence against Cortez.

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