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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Migrante to Noy: Heed wangwang of OFWs in distress


Migrante International today called on Pres. Noynoy Aquino to urgently heed the wangwang (distress calls) of overseas Filipino workers in death row, seeking immediate repatriation and overstaying in jails abroad.


In a press conference, Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, presented cases of OFWs "that cannot afford to wait for Pres. Aquino's 100 days to finish."


"Kung galit si Pres. Aquino sa mga wangwang, ibahin niya itong wangwang na distress call ng ating mga OFW. Kumbaga, tulad ito ng wangwang ng ambulansya na kailangan ng agarang lunas at kung hindi'y maaaring ikamatay ng ating mga kababayan ," Martinez said.


Martinez said that according to data gathered by their Migrants Assistance Committee, there are currently 101 cases of OFWs in death row, of which  66 are from China and 26 from the Middle East; while 226 are stranded and languishing in Filipino shelters in the Middle East, Somalia and Taiwan.


He also urged Aquino to immediately address the sending back home of the remains of six OFWs majority from the Middle East Region.


There are also hundreds of OFWs, he added, who are presently overstaying their sentences in jails abroad.

"They are enduring the most deplorable and cruel of conditions and are lacking much-needed legal and financial support from the DFA,  Philippine embassies and consulates.”

Martinez accompanied to the press conference relatives of Joselito Zapanta, Nerissa Neri and Sergio Garcia who tearfully appealed to Aquino to provide aid and assistance to their loved ones.


Zapanta was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia last April. He accidentally killed his abusive employer in self-defense. He already appealed his case before the designated deadline last May 1 but his relatives say that the DFA has neglected to them update since.


Neri was drugged and raped by a Bangladeshi national in Saud Arabia in August 2009. Her employer sent her to jail "for having an illicit affair" upon discovering that she was pregnant. No thanks to the government, Neri will soon be released because her rapist was caught. However, she will still receive 50 lashes, according to Muslim law. Priority must be given for her immediate repatriation.


Garcia is a cargo salesman in Jeddah who has served his one year jail sentence but is yet to be released. His family has also not yet received word from the DFA.


" We expect Aquino to make public his plans and course of action on these cases as soon as possible," Martinez said.


He urged the president to seriously review and consider Migrante's "10-point migrant challenge" which presents viable solutions to address the protection, welfare and defense of OFWs, including the immediate release of the yearly P1 million Legal Assistance and P1 million Repatriation Fund for migrant workers and OFWs in distress.

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