Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International today held a candle-lighting protest to kick off series of actions and activities calling on the government to save the life of a 35-year-old Filipino male who is set for execution in China on December 8.
According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, they will commence with a “5 ‘o clock habit”, vigils and actions nationwide starting today until December 8 to protest “government neglect” of Filipinos on death row.
“Our government has not been very transparent in their processes of providing assistance and negotiations in all death row cases. In the case of Filipinos on China death row, we have brought these to the attention of the government as early as February last year, way before the execution of our three kababayans there last March. Ngayon, nagkukumahog na naman ang gobyerno natin kung kailan malapit na ang araw ng pagbitay.”
He said that there is a need for the Philippine government to “review and rectify” its handling of death row cases, especially drug-related cases on China death row. “Hindi na ito mga isolated cases lang. The government needs to take a more preemptive role in appealing for the lives of our kababayans on death row there. Hindi iyong isa-isa nilang haharapin at kung kailan nariyan na ang schedule ng execution. Kung ganito na lang lagi, lagi na lang tayong maghihintay ng schedule at lagi na lang last ditch appeal ang gobyerno.”
According to Migrante’s monitoring, there are currently 208 Filipinos with drug-related cases in China. Of these, 70 are on death row, 45 sentenced with life imprisonment, 80 with fixed term imprisonment and 12 pending trial. All over the world, there is a total of 122 Filipinos on death row.
On December 7, OFWs and families will hold a vigil in Mendiola. On December 8, Migrante International and other sectors will hold a “Camp-out against government neglect of OFWs” in Mendiola. “We call on all Filipinos to come together and call for the commutation of our kababayan’s sentence in China.”
No aid left for OFWs
“Ito na ang resulta ng lahat ng pagpapabaya ng gobyerno. From budget cuts to missing OWWA funds, no aid is left for our OFWs. They slash funds for direct OFW services, pass on the burden to OFWs through various fees and collections, and then they plunder those very funds that came from our OFWs’ hard work and sacrifice,” he said.
A report by the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that OWWA officers overseas failed to remit more than P21 million OWWA funds to their Manila account. Direct services for OFWs also suffered cuts in the 2012 national budget, with aggregate funds for direct OFWs services getting only a share of less than one percent, or .017%, of the P1.8 trillion national budget. “How then can we expect the government to provide much-needed legal assistance to OFWs in distress, especially those on death row?” ###