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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Filipino groups suggest getting the services of former envoy to deal cases of OFWs in Saudi death row

Believing that there could be no other person who could best deal the cases
of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row in Saudi Arabia, several
Filipino migrants group suggested that former ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Antonio Villamor's services should be tapped instead by the PH government.

"Amb. Villamor's outstanding service records, during 4-year stint as
Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia, speak for what he had done in the
service of OFWs in the oil-rich Kingdom," said Michael Pacheco of the head
of the Alpha Phi Omega Riyadh Alumni Association (APORAA).

Pacheco said that includes what he said *=93his tireless efforts in saving
the lives of OFWs on death row.

He cited, as an example, the case of OFW Sarah Dematera, who was sentenced
to death after killing her employer on 1992. However, Dematera had been
spared from execution when the family of the aggrieved Saudi family agreed
to show mercy for her in exchange of for blood money amounting to SR.2.5

"If not of the timely intercession of Ambassador Villamor by cautiously
talking with the aggrieved party for settlement, then probably OFW Dematera
had been hanged to death," Pacheco averred.

Francisco Naval, chairperson of the United OFWs, shares the same
observations and seconded saying: "Tapping the services of a seasoned
diplomat like of Amb. Villamor, in efforts of saving the lives of OFWs on
death row in Saudi, is a good idea."

Naval said it was under Amb. Villamor's watch that OFWs Idan Tejano and
Marjanna Sakilan, both were charged of homicide and robbery for the death of
Tejano's pregnant lady employer on May 2001.

"Because of the gravity of the crime they had committed, many Shariah
experts believed that a death penalty will be meted out; but due to the
timely assistance of Amb. Villamor pleading their clemency to the Saudi
King, the penalty has been reduced to 12 years imprisonment plus 1,200
lashes each," Naval added.

On Thursday, migrant rights group Migrante Middle East has called on
Philippines Vice President Jejomar Binay to urge Saudia Arabia's government
to show mercy to Filipinos on death row in the Kingdom.

"Vice President Jejomar Binay arrives on Friday to discuss with Saudi
officials the ban on hiring new Filipino domestic helpers. But we will also
ask him to plead with the Saudi government on behalf of eight Filipinos who
are on death row," John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East regional

He said the Filipinos on death row include Don Lanuza, Rolando and Edison
Gonzales and Eduardo Arcilla.

He added that the Philippine government must hold talks with the Saudi
government urgently after Filipinos in China were executed on Wednesday
after being convicted of smuggling drugs.

Monterona lamented the fact that nobody knows what action the Philippine
government has taken so far on behalf of the eight workers on death row in
the Kingdom.

Last week, on the day of the three Filipinos execution in China, Monterona
had suggested the formation of a high-level inter-agency task force to find
ways to have death sentences commuted instead.

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