Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Relations of RP, Singapore not tainted over slain OFW ­ envoy

Tuesday, 09/27/2005

Even with the brutal slaying of Jane La Puebla, a Filipino domestic helper, the bilateral relations of the Philippines and Singapore remains intact. Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen Anota yesterday confirmed this, stressing the recent tragedy involving two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was not in any way causing damage on the bilateral relations of the two countries.

“I am not here during the Flor Contemplacion case, but I can speak for what is happening now and the things are going on very smoothly,” Anota said.

Both countries, Anota added, are “very senstive” to each other's concerns and so far there was no indication that this might create another tension between the Philippines and Singapore should the ruling of the subordinate court turned out unfavorable to us. Guen Aguilar, the suspect in the murder of La Puebla, was currently detained at the Changi Womens prison.

Philippine authorities feared this case would again cause another spark between the good relations of the two nations 10 years ago during the execution of Flor Contemplacion, the Filipino domestic helper convicted of killing her compatriots Delia Maga and a Singporean boy.

Anota said there is an ongoing backdoor channelling with the Philippines and the host government to ensure the La Puebla murder slay will not put both parties at stake.

“We are in close coordination with all the authorities so that nothing gets out of hand,” Anota explained, adding she is heading the Philippine team. But she refused to give details of the backdoor negotiations since she noted this may harm the ongoing back room channelling.

Anota added despite the recent tragic event, the Singaporean government did not impose stricter rules on the entry of the OFWs in the country, claiming our deployment has not been affected. Citing the figures of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Singapore, Anota said there are an estimated 90,000 OFWs in Singapore at present and the number continues to increase.

But when asked how many are considered illegal, the diplomat noted if we are using the Singapore laws, there is no “illegal” workers in the host country since all of the Filipino workers there are documented and are able to secure their work permits.

But she claimed if we will use the Philippine laws, majority of the OFWs in Singapore could be considered illegal since they entered Singapore using a tourist visa.

Meanwhile, Anota has committed to give all the support to both the Aguilar and La Puebla families until the case will be over.

Court Magistrate Carolyn Wee last Friday suspended the court hearing for the third time to give the police some more time to gather pieces of evidence and complete their investigation.

Based on reports, the next hearing of Aguilar is set on Oct. 14. Marie A. Surbano

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