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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Amid surge in Saudi’s executions: Aquino govt. urged to intensify efforts to save OFWs on death row

A migrants' rights group closely following and campaigning to save the lives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row in Saudi Arabia today conveys serious apprehension on the latter's fate amid surge in numbers of executed prisoners in the oil-rich Kingdom.


Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said the situation of the 8 OFWs on death row in Saudi is like "waiting, in an unknown date and time, the sword to fall on each head."


On June 10, Amnesty International issued a statement saying there were at least 27 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia in 2011, almost the same numbers of people executed in 2010. 'Fifteen people were executed in May 2011 alone," it added.


On Saturday, local reports quoted interior ministry that an Indonesian domestic worker was executed by sword after being convicted of murdering a Saudi woman.


Amnesty Intl. also stated that at least 158 people, including 76 foreign nationals, were executed by the Saudi Arabian authorities in 2007, while some 102 people, including almost 40 foreign nationals, were executed in 2008.


Monterona said the surge in the numbers of executions shows the host govt. serious resolve in implementing death sentence by execution using sword, though it has been criticized by the international community as the only country using such a 'cruel' death sentence. 

"Thus, we are raising serious concerns on the status of our 8 OFWs in Saudi death row on the fact that even the OFWs' respective families have not been advise on the efforts of the government in saving their lives," Monterona added.


Monterona said they're closely following the cases of Don Lanuza, brothers Rolando and Edison Gonzales, Eduardo Arcilla, Joselito Zapanta, Carlito Lana, Ryan Tolen, and Edgar Maligaya.


All, except Ryan Tolen and Edgar Maligaya whose respective case is being heard, have received court verdict.


OFWs Lanuza, Zapanta, and Lana said they have unintentionally killed their attackers in self defense. OFWs Maligaya and brothers Gonzales have been 'wrongly' implicated on the crimes, while Tolen stabbed and killed a fellow worker during heated argument.


On March 30, days after the execution of 3 Pinoys in China, Migrante-Middle East called on Vice President Jejomar Binay, also presidential adviser on OFWs concerns, to intercede in behalf of the 8 OFWs in Saudi death row.


Monterona suggested the formation of a high-level inter-agency task force that would find ways, diplomatically or otherwise, in the commutation of death sentences and eventually spare the OFWs from execution.


Migrante-ME calls on Pres. Aquino III to intensify govt. efforts to save the lives of OFWs on death row.


"The Aquino govt. should act now, not later. On our part, we will intensify our advocacy and campaign to save the lives of OFWs on death row who have been victim of poverty and joblessness that forced them to look for better paid jobs but ended as prisoners in foreign land," Monterona concluded.


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