Monday, January 30, 2017

Malacañang respects Trump immigration ban

The Philippine government respects President Donald Trump's order that halts the entry of refugees into the United States and temporarily bars travellers from seven Muslim countries, a Palace official said Sunday.
In an interview over dzRB, Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag said imposing such restriction is the US' "right."
"[W]e respect the policy of the United States of America if they have prohibitions or they would be banning people from entering their country because that is their right," she said.
Banaag noted that they have consulted the Philippine embassy in Washington, D.C., on the matter, and would issue a comment on it after officials there have studied the order, including its parameters.
Signed Saturday (Philippine time), Trump's sweeping executive order suspends the arrival of refugees in the US for at least four months.
It also bars visas for travelers from seven Muslim majority countries, including Syria, for the next three months.
Gillian Christensen of the US Homeland Security said Trump's order also covers green card holders.
Christensen said green card holders would need additional screening before they are allowed to re-enter the US.
Trump's order has sparked resistance, with demonstrations held at major airports there. A federal judge blocked part of the ban, ordering authorities to stop deporting refugees and other travelers stuck at US airports.
Banaag said that they will "let the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) negotiate" should the ban affect Filipino travelers to the US.
She noted, however: "They have naman the visa, 'di ba? They have regulations on who are qualified to go to their country." Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/ALG, GMA News

Palace: Gov't providing assistance to all Pinoys on death row abroad

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Saturday assured that the government is doing everything to save all overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who are on death row abroad.
"Sa simula't sapul niyan, talagang inaasikaso 'yan ng ating DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) tsaka DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) ano. Kaya lang each one is a particular case and each one is a particular situation pero pinaglaban natin lahat," Abella said in a radio interview.
He said "top caliber" lawyers are handling the cases of the Filipinos on death row.
The DFA had said that at least 88 Filipinos are on death row abroad.
"Katulad po nung si Ms. Pawa ano, eh talagang, according to DFA, we sent top caliber, we hired top caliber lawyers kaya lang talagang hindi talaga siya, mukhang ano talaga 'yung kaso against her seemed to be tilted against her, parang ganon. Pero hindi po tayo pabaya sa kapakanan ng ating mga kapwa Pilipino abroad," Abella added.
Jakatia Pawa, convicted for the murder of her employer's 22-year-old daughter in 2007, was executed in Kuwait on Wednesday.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had said that the government will lose the moral ascendancy to act in behalf of Filipinos on death row abroad with the Duterte administration's push for the reimposition of the death penalty in the country.
Abella said the Palace understands "where the CBCP is coming from."
"However, we also have to understand na 'yung katulad ng ano, may mga alleged crimes kasi na kinondemn ng mga certain countries lalo sa may bandang Middle East. But we have to understand that they operate from a different set of rules."
Abella said that Kuwait go by Shariah and not by western civil law.
"Iba po 'yung kanilang pamaraan. So hindi po natin sinasabing hindi natin pinaglalaban 'yan. However, we cannot claim ascendancy but we can claim perhaps clemency and mercy depending on the merit of each case, not simply because we have certain laws that --- not because we do not have yet the death penalty but we have to discuss each one of the merit of each case," he added. —Marlly Rome C. Bondoc/ALG, GMA News

DOLE mulls temporary deployment ban of Pinoy HSWs to Kuwait

The Philippine Labor Department is considering a temporary suspension of the deployment of Filipino household helpers to Kuwait due to reports of abuses by employers in the host country.
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said Friday that a deployment moratorium is being studied amid growing calls to impose the measure, following reports of abuses against OFWs, particularly female household service workers (HSWs).
“We are taking this call for a moratorium seriously.  We will conduct consultations with our partners and other government agencies,” said Bello.
He flew to Kuwait after the third round of peace talks in Italy with the communist rebels to check on the situation of another OFW on death row convict in Kuwait.
Last Wednesday, Pinoy HSW Jakatia Pawa was executed for the murder in 2007 of her employer's daughter, which she denied until her execution.
Bello said he would try to save the life of another OFW death convict Elpidio Lano, who a Kuwaiti court found guilty of killing Filipino Nilo Macaranas on June 17, 2014
"We will make a decision on the proposed moratorium soon,” he said, adding that there is urgent need to curb unfortunate incidents befalling Filipino workers.
Meanwhile, Bello directed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to facilitate the processing of travel documents of Pawa's family members so they can visit her grave in Kuwait if they so desire.
"Hinihintay lang ang kanilang  desisyon  kung kailan nila gustong magpunta ng Kuwait. Kami ay narito naman para asikasuhin ang  kanilang  pangangailangan,” Bello said. —LBG, GMA News

Pinoy-run hospital to open soon in Qatar

A Filipino-run hospital with 100 beds is set to be constructed in Qatar, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in a statement.
The DFA said the construction of the hospital, which will be located in Doha, is set to begin in 2018.
The project was discussed during Philippine Health Secretary Jean Rosell-Ubial's two-day visit to Doha where she and her team met with prospective Qatari investors, among them Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani, a member of the Royal family in Doha and deputy chairman of AlJazeera International Group WLL.
Joining Ubial during her January 22 to 23 visit were Director Maylene Beltran of the Bureau of International Health Cooperation of the Department of Health (DOH), and Dr. Jose Manigque Tiongco, chairman of the Medical Mission Group.
According to the DFA, while waiting for the construction of the hospital, the Medical Mission Group will first start with a polyclinic in Doha by the third quarter of 2017.
During the meeting, Al-Thani acknowledged the importance of establishing a medical facility in Doha to be able to keep up with the demand for the health care given Qatar’s booming economy.
During her visit, Ubial witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Dr. Tiongco of the Medical Mission Group and a Qatari investor.
Ubial also called on Charge d’affaires, a.i. Roussel Reyes of the Philippine Embassy in Doha, and met with the members of the Filipino communities in Qatar through a press conference at the Embassy Social Hall.
On the last day of the visit, Ubial met with the Minister of Public Health in Qatar Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al-Kuwari. —KBK, GMA News

Friday, January 27, 2017

Bello off to Kuwait to save another OFW on death row

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday said he will proceed to Kuwait after the third round of peace talks with the National Democratic Front in Rome to try to save another overseas Filipino worker (OFW) on death row.
In an interview posted on the Facebook page of state media PTV, Bello said he will first facilitate the burial of Jakatia Pawa, the Filipina domestic helper who was executed on Wednesday for killing her employer's 22-year-old daughter in 2007.
"I should be in Kuwait at 8 in the morning. I will look into the remains of Jakatia Pawa and I just found out that she is a Muslim so the relatives decided that she should be buried in Kuwait. We will not anymore have to repatriate the body," Bello said.
"My second purpose in going there is to look into the case of another death row OFW, Mr. Elpidio Nano, who allegedly killed his own co-worker Engr. [Nilo] Macaranas. Matagal na rin ito kagaya ng kay Ms. Pawa, 2008 pa ito," he added.
Bello said he reprimanded one of his assistant labor attaches in the Middle East for her failure to notify him ahead of time about Pawa's execution.
"I was talking to our assistant labor attache this morning and I confronted her with her failure to notify me at the earliest possible time over Ms. Pawa and I did not find her explanation plausible," he said.
However, Bello said his focus now is to save Nano from death row and follow up the negotiations with the Macaranas family who is also Filipino.
"My immediate concern is Mr. Nano whom I can hopefully still save because there is an ongoing negotiation with the relatives of the victim. Kasi Pilipino rin si Engr. Macaranas. We will attempt to get the forgiveness of the family. If we do succeed, we can save the life of Mr. Nano," he said.
Bello added he will also meet with other labor attaches in the Middle East and require them to submit a list of all OFWs in detention, especially those on death row.
"My purpose in going there is to issue a directive to all our labor attaches in Saudi Arabia, including the other countries in the Middle East, to submit to me immediately an inventory of all OFWs who are behind bars, especially those in the death row," he said.
Meanwhile, the Labor chief said Pawa's two children, aged 18 and 16, will each be given P100,000 in financial assistance and scholarships.
Aside from his trip to Kuwait, Bello said he will also fly to Hong Kong on January 29 to meet with OFWs there. Joseph Tristan Roxas/KBK, GMA News

Brother of executed OFW absolves gov't: 'Hindi naman siya pinabayaan'

The brother of Jakatia Pawa, the Filipina who was executed in Kuwait, on Thursday said the government should not be faulted for his sister's fate, saying it did what it could to save her.
"Hindi naman pinabayaan ng gobyerno natin sa tatlong administration 'yung kapatid ko," said Lt. Col. Angaris Pawa, referring to the Arroyo, Aquino and Duterte administrations. "Full support naman ang gobyerno natin."
Pawa was executed Wednesday for killing her employer's 22-year-old daughter in 2007. She maintained her innocence up to her final moments, saying it was the victim's family who had the motive to kill her after she was allegedly caught having an affair with their neighbor.
The Filipina domestic helper left behind two children in Zamboanga City, who both could not accept the fate of their mother, according to a report by GMA News' Tina Panganiban-Perez on "24 Oras."
"Ma, kahit wala ka na sa tabi namin, masakit sa amin na wala ka na po. Akala namin makakasama na namin siya this year. Hindi pala. Ganun na lang po. Hindi kami makapaniwala," Hadisza Pawa, Jakatia's eldest daughter, said.
Moreover, they expressed anger and dismay that they learned about their mother's execution from her and not from the government.
"Kasi po yung embassy po, parang walang ano, wala man lang kaming ininform sa mga balita. Nalaman na lang po namin sa tawag ng mama namin. Kapag hindi pa tumawag ang mama namin siguro hindi namin alam," said Amencadrah Pawa, Jakatia's youngest child.
The children's father and Jakatia's husband was killed in 2012. The case remains unsolved, the report said.
Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has vowed to provide assistance to Jakatia's family, especially her children, who are aged 18 and 16.
"Hindi natin iiwanan yung pamilya, lalo na yung dalawang anak na binilin din mismo ni Jakatia," said Hans Cacdac, OWWA administrator.
"We can shoulder travel to Manila and of course, if the family ultimately decides to visit her grave site in Kuwait, tutulong din kami sa transportation," he added.
The agency promised to give to Pawa's family financial assistance worth P120,000, livelihood assistance worth P15,000, psychosocial counselling, and scholarship for her children.  —Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA News

Solon seeks review of PHL maids' deployment to Kuwait

A day after a Filipina domestic helper was executed in Kuwait, a lawmaker proposed a review of the Philippine government's policy in sending domestic workers to the Middle Eastern country.
ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. John Bertiz said the government should "reconsider" sending Filipino domestic workers to Kuwait. He said Filipino domestic helpers make up more than half of the 250,000 OFWs in Kuwait.
"Like Jakatia [Pawa], they are all vulnerable to abuse and exploitation," said Bertiz at the weekly Serye forum in Quezon City on Thursday.
The Kuwaiti government executed Jakatia Pawa on Wednesday afternoon (PHL time), seven years after she was sentenced to death for killing her employer's 22-year-old daughter. She has maintained innocence up to the day of her death.
In November 2016, Bertiz filed a resolution seeking "to look into the plight of household service workers in Kuwait and into the oft repeated demand for ban/moratorium on their deployment by Filipino organizations [there]."
"If the Kuwaiti government cannot guarantee the safety of our workers or, in Jakatia's case, ensure that they have access to justice and fair trial, then perhaps it’s time for us to seriously [re]consider Kuwait as a country of destination for our OFWs," he said.
"The Philippine government would be remiss in its duty to protect our OFWs if we continue to send them to countries which treat them like expendable goods and without an ounce for mercy," Bertiz added.
"Fatal flaws"
Bertiz is also seeking a review of how the Philippine government handled Pawa’s case, saying her death "exposed fatal flaws in our system" of dealing with Filipinos on death row overseas—from how their cases are monitored, to providing legal assistance, and eventually supporting their bereaved families.
"I will call for a review of this case to determine what we could have done better. Let us use the lessons learned from the wrongful execution of Jakatia to make sure that no innocent OFW would be put to death because our government failed to be pro-active in monitoring their situation and in providing timely assistance," he said.
Bertiz maintained that Pawa was innocent, based on her "consistent" denial of the crime and saying the victim's family had stronger motives to kill tge  because of
"There was clearly a miscarriage of justice in this case and it pains me that we failed to save the life of an innocent Filipina," he added.
Pawa, a mother of two, claimed that the victim had been caught having an illicit love affair with a male neighbor, which caused strong animosity between her and her family.
Bertiz slammed the Department of Foreign Affairs anew for being “reactionary” on Pawa’s case.
“May magagawa pa sana… Nu’ng nag-courtesy call ‘yung bagong ambassador—kung ginawa ng DFA ang kanilang trabaho—dapat 'yung folder na iaabot [sa head ng bansa during the courtesy call] nandoon na 'yung mga nasa death row," he said.
He also noted how Pawa herself had to inform her family of her execution the following day, and the DFA and Philippine embassy's seeming "neglect" to reach out to her loved ones. —KBK, GMA News

Executed OFW Jakatia Pawa to be buried in Kuwait

The brother of OFW Jakatia Pawa who on Wednesday was executed in Kuwait said their family has decided to let her burial be done there. 

"Nagdesisyon na rin kaming lahat na magkakapatid. Kasi sa batas kasi ng Muslim, sa Islam, within 24 hours dapat mailibing siya. Pagka-inuwi pa namin ng Pilipinas, baka pagdating dito sa amin sa Zamboanga, wala na 'yung kapatid namin. Baka mangangamoy na 'yun. Magdudusa pa kami," said Col. Angaris Pawa on Thursday in an interview on Unang Balita with Arnold Clavio.

He also revealed that they only managed to get information regarding the case through phone calls with his sister.

"Actually, everytime 'pag ano, 'pag kausap ko 'yung kapatid ko, dun lang ako kumukuha ng information sa kapatid ko, kung ano ng development ng kaso mo," Col. Pawa said. 

"Last time na pumunta ako ng Kuwait kasama ko ang dalawang anak niya. Maganda sana 'yung outcome, kasi maganda 'yung assurance na ibinigay ng abugado niya, si Attorney Faucia Al Sabah. Kamag-anak mismo ng President ng Kuwait. 'Yung sabi by next year 2017, 'Pagbalik mo dala mo na 'yung kapatid mo.' 'Yan ang sabi, makalabas na. 'Yun pala kabaligtaran po ng pangyayari," he added.
Col. Pawa also reiterated that his sister said she was not guilty of killing her employer's 22-year-old daughter in 2007.

"Nanay talaga ng biktima ang pumatay doon," he said. 

Despite the outcome of the case, Pawa said the Philippine government was not remiss in its duty to help them.

"Hindi naman nagkulang 'yung gobyerno natin. Katulad ng administration, talagang tinutukan naman 'yung kaso ng kapatid ko. Kaso lang 'yung parents ng victim, nagmamatigas talaga sila. Ayaw makipag-negotiate. Kasi meron namang nakalaad na blood-money doon," Pawa said.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose has previously said that the family's victim refused to give a 'tanazul' or letter of forgiveness in exchange for 'blood money' which could have saved Jakatia Pawa from execution. —Marlly Rome C. Bondoc/KG, GMA News

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brother says Jakatia, not gov't, informed them of impending execution

The family of OFW Jakatia Pawa on Wednesday expressed dismay that they learned about her impending execution in Kuwait from her and not from the government, a report by GMA News' Jam Sisante on "24 Oras" said.
"Kung halimbawa ma-execute and kapatid ko, dapat 2, 3, 4 days dapat naimpormahan kami. Ang masakit lang sa aming pamilya, kapatid ko na ang tumawag na bibitayin na siya ngayong araw na ito," said Lt. Col. Angaris Pawa, Jakatia's brother.
Jakatia was executed on Wednesday afternoon (PHL time), seven years after she was sentenced to death for killing her employer's 22-year-old daughter in 2007.
In the report, Col. Pawa recalled his last conversation with his sister, who at that time was already at the execution room.
"Sabi niya '8 a.m. dito sa Kuwait, ako'y bibitayin na.' So napaiyak na lang ako. Nabigla ako nung pagtawag niya so huling pag-usap namin 10 minutes to 1 p.m. dito sa atin bibitayin siya, 8 a.m. doon sa Kuwait," he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), meanwhile, admitted that it was Jakatia who first informed her family of her impending execution. 
"OFW Pawa was given cellphone by the prison authorities so she was able to call her family. That happened simultaneously when the embassy was informed," DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said at a press briefing.
Jose insisted that the Philippine government did its best to save Jakatia's life, only that the victim's family had refused to give a tanazul or letter of forgiveness that would've removed Jakatia from death row.
"That was the key. With the tanazul, maybe the death sentence would have been commuted to life imprisonment or term imprisonment," Jose said.
Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva, chairperson of the Senate labor committee, chided the DFA over the incident during a Senate hearing on Wednesday.
"Give us an assurance that a working policy is in place. It's kind of absurd to hear that the family of Ms. Pawa just learned about it," Villanueva said.
Malacañang also expressed its sincere condolences to Jakatia's family.
OFW advocate Susan Ople, for her part, said, "There appears to be room for improvement on how the DFA and DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) can coordinate better to make sure that an OFW on death row and his or her family are equally cared for especially when an execution may be imminent.” —Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA News

Advocate: Remember Jakatia as a hardworking OFW, not as a convict

Jakatia Pawa should not be remembered as a convicted felon but as a hardworking overseas Filipino worker, an OFW advocate said Wednesday, following Pawa's execution in Kuwait.
"It should be made of public record, however, for her to children to know, that for those of us who have been carefully following this case, Jakatia will continue to be known for her courage, conviction, and her innocence," said Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center that assists distressed OFWs, in a statement.
Pawa, 42, was sentenced to death in Kuwait for killing her employer's 22-year-old daughter in 2007.
During court hearings, however, Pawa denied killing her employer's daughter, saying the victim's family members had stronger motives to kill her because of an alleged illicit love affair with a male neighbor.
According to Ople, Pawa was innocent of the crime as "[t]here was not a single shred of evidence linking her to the crime scene."
"She had no motive to attack the daughter of her employer in such a violent and gruesome manner," Ople said.
"It was not her DNA found on the murder weapon. And the fact that the same employer had renewed her contract in the past showed a certain degree of trust and appreciation between the two parties."
Ople said the Blas F. Ople Policy Center is extending its deepest sympathies to Pawa's family.
"It was sad that her immediate family did not have the chance to personally see her for a last embrace, a final farewell," she said. —KBK, GMA News

Robredo offers to help kin of Pinay executed in Kuwait

Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday vowed to help the family of a Filipina convict who had just been executed in Kuwait.
Noting that OFWs “sacrifice every day for their family and our country," Robredo in a statement called on Filipinos to “continue working for the welfare” of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), following the execution of Jakatia Pawa.
“We offer our most sincere condolences to the family of Jakatia Pawa,” Robredo said. “We hope to connect with their family and help them through this trying time.”
Pawa, 42, was sentenced to death for murder in 2010 for the killing of her employer’s 22-year-old daughter in 2007. She was executed at 10:19 a.m. in Kuwait (3:19 p.m. Manila time) on Wednesday.
The Filipina, a mother of two, denied the crime, saying the victim’s family members had stronger motives to kill her employer’s daughter because of an illicit love affair with a male neighbor.
In a press conference confirming the execution, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said there are 88 Filipinos on death row worldwide. — MDM, GMA News

Solon scores DFA for 'reactionary' approach on death row OFWs

Following the execution of a Filipina convict in Kuwait, the party-list representing OFWs in Congress on Wednesday hit the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for being “reactionary” toward the cases of Filipinos on death row overseas.
In an interview, ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. John Bertiz said the DFA should have acted upon the case of Jakatia Pawa, a murder convict in Kuwait, when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June last year.
Pawa was sentenced to death for murder in 2010 for the killing of her employer’s 22-year-old daughter in 2007. She was executed 3:19 p.m. Wednesday (Manila time).
“Dito sa case ni Jakatia, maaagapan pa sana ito kung ‘yung pag-upo ng ating Presidente—na alam naman natin na may puso at malasakit sa ating mga OFW—ay nag-initiate na sana ang DFA na ipaalam kay Presidente,” he added.
Bertiz sent his sympathies to Pawa’s family, adding that he believes she was innocent.
“Ako bilang isang OFW naniniwala na siya ay inosente rito, because from 2002 until 2008, alaga niya mismo ‘yung napatay. At based du’n sa iba niyang statement, consistent naman siya, pati ‘yung mga resulta ng investigation, forensic, at DNA test, negative siya,” he said.
Earlier, DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippine government, since the time of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had been “unrelenting” in appealing to the victim’s family to grant a tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness in exchange for blood money, “but to no avail.”
He added that the Philippine government also pursued “different channels” to save Pawa, and hired a lawyer to represent her in all stages of court proceedings.
During the press conference, Jose said there are 88 Filipinos on death row worldwide.
Blood money
Under Shariah Law, blood money or compensation is given to the family of murder victims in exchange for their forgiveness, put on record via an affidavit. It allows those sentenced for death penalty to escape it.
Bertiz noted that there are three to five Filipinos on death row in Saudi Arabia who are just waiting for blood money for their respective cases.
He also urged the government to help other Filipinos on death row using the P23-million blood money supposed pooled to save OFW Joselito Zapanta from execution.
Zapanta was executed on December 29, 2015, after his family failed to raise the P48 million blood money sought by the widow of the Sudanese national Zapanta killed in 2009.
“Nasaan ngayon ‘yung perang ‘yon? Ano ‘yung gagawin? Puwede naman sigurong itulong doon sa mga nasa death row,” Bertiz said.
‘Wake-up call’
For her part, Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus said Pawa’s death should serve as a “wake-up call to President Duterte to fulfill his promise of creating sufficient jobs in the country so that working abroad will not be a necessity.”
“Her execution is a grim reminder of the price of the government’s labor export policy, which vulnerable migrant Filipino workers have to pay,” she said in a statement.
De Jesus, vice chair of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, also noted the importance of including social and economic reforms in the ongoing peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
She said a comprehensive deal on the matter “will generate enough jobs for Filipinos through genuine land reform and national industrialization.” — KBK, GMA News

Palace condoles with family of executed Pinay helper in Kuwait

Malacañang on Wednesday condoled with the family of overseas Filipino worker Jakatia Pawa who was executed in Kuwait.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella in a statement said that the Philippine government provided Pawa all the assistance to stop her execution.
"It is with sadness that we confirm the execution of Jakatia Pawa this afternoon (Philippine time)," he said.
"The Philippine government has provided the late Pawa all the assistance necessary to ensure all her legal rights are respected and all legal procedures are followed. Government likewise exerted all efforts to preserve her life, including diplomatic means and appeals for compassion. Execution, however, could no longer be forestalled under Kuwaiti laws," he added.
Abella added that the Department of Foreign Affairs is in touch with Pawa's family for the assistance.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs is now closely coordinating with Ms. Pawa’s family and continues to facilitate assistance," he said.
"We pray for her and her bereaved family," he added. —ALG, GMA News

Pinay convict executed in Kuwait –DFA

Jakatia Pawa, the Filipina who was sentenced to death in Kuwait for murder, was executed Wednesday, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
"It is with sadness that we announce the execution of Jakatia Pawa," DFA spokesman Charles Jose said at a press conference. "We extend our sincere condolences to the family."
Jose said Pawa, a mother of two, was executed at 10:19 a.m (3:19 p.m. in Manila). It was the first time a Filipino was executed in Kuwait in recent years.
Pawa, 42, was sentenced to death by the Kuwait's Court of Cassation in 2010 for the killing of her employer's 22-year-old daughter in 2007.
A mother of two children aged 18 and 16 and a native of Zamboanga del Norte, Pawa earned a bachelor's degree in banking and finance from the Zamboanga Arturo Eustaquio Colleges in Zamboanga City, now Universidad de Zamboanga.
During court hearings, Pawa, who started working in Kuwait in 2002, denied killing her employer's daughter, saying the victim's family members had stronger motives to kill her because of an alleged illicit love affair with a male neighbor. 
Appeals have been "unrelenting"
Jose said the Philippine government since the time of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been "unrelenting" in appealing to the victim's family to grant a tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness in exchange for blood money "but to no avail."
"We were hoping the family will relent in the payment of blood money but at the last minute they did not accept,” Jose said, adding the Philippine government also pursued "different channels" to save Pawa.
Under Shariah Law, blood money or compensation is given to the family of murder victims in exchange for their forgiveness. It allows those facing the death penalty to escape capital punishment.
In exchange for blood money, the victim’s family, should they accept it, will execute an affidavit of forgiveness.
Jose there are 88 Filipinos on death row worldwide.
Legal process
Pawa, Jose said, was represented by a lawyer hired by the Philippine government in all stages of court proceedings.
"She went through the legal process and was given another chance to present her evidence, but we were unable to unfortunately prove her innocence," Jose said.
He said Pawa’s family was able to visit her in jail three times and the most recent was in October 2016.
Pawa was also able to inform her family of her execution by phone on Tuesday.
Jose said Islamic rules will be followed for Pawa’s burial. "She will be buried in Kuwait," he said.
Around 10 million Filipino workers — mostly housemaids, construction workers, and medical personnel — have largely been deployed in Asia, Middle East, Africa, U.S. and Europe, exposing them to attacks, abuses and other tragedies abroad.
Remittances from Filipino migrant workers constitute a significant source of the country’s foreign exchange, sending home over $22 billion per year. —KBK, GMA News

PHL makes 'last-minute' appeal as OFW faces Wednesday execution in Kuwait

The Philippine ambassador in Kuwait is making "last-minute" appeals in connection with the reported looming execution of Filipino worker Jakatia Pawa, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) representative told a Senate committee on Wednesday.
"Currently, I was informed by our office that our ambassador in Kuwait is making last-minute appeals to the kuwaiti authorities to spare the life of OFW Jakatia Pawa," lawyer Tanya Ramiro, principal assistant of the DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs told members of the Senate labor committee.
"The embassy in Kuwait assured us that they will call us to inform us whether or not the execution will be deferred or whether or not it will push through," she added.
Pawa, a household service worker, was sentenced to death by the Kuwait's Court of Cassation in 2010 for the killing of her employer's 22-year-old daughter in May 2007.
Ramiro told the Senate committee that a high-level intercession meeting has been scheduled as early as 2007.
Under the laws, however, a tanazul or a letter of forgiveness should be executed by the next of kin of the victim before a convict could be removed from death row.
"We've been trying to convince the family to issue this letter of forgiveness, the mother refuses to issue this tanazul," Ramiro said.
OFW advocate Susan Ople said Pawa's family, including her two childrne, wanted to go to Kuwait.
She said Pawa's execution was scheduled "in a few minutes." —KBK, GMA News

Fil-Am cops’ group continue to support PNP

A group of Filipino-American police officers has decided to continue helping their counterparts in the Philippines even after the San Franciso Police District (SFPD) cut ties with the Philippine National Police (PNP) due to concerns of human rights violations.
Retired SFPD Lieutenant Eric Quema, second vice president of THE Filipino-American Law Enforcement Officers (FALEO), said they cannot turn their back on Filipino policemen.
Some 20 FALEO members are now in the country to turnover $25,000 to $30,000 worth of used and brand new police equipment to different police stations in the country. They also gave donations to different barangays and schools.
“We are not officially here under San Francisco PD anymore and neither is any agency, they discontinued that (exhange program) immediately and I don’t blame my chief, that’s the only move he can make because politically, everybody is in turmoil so he made the only choice he could make,” Quema told reporters after the turn-over ceremony at the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame.
“And because he made that choice, we choose to go under the umbrella of FALEO kasi fraternal 'yan. We are still on good stuff, this is good stuff, this is not bad. We can’t abandon our own people because once this is all settled, all these accusations, the fact remains the crimes are gonna continue and we can’t abandon them and start over again. We want to continue the bridge we have," he said.
Quema said the controversy did not affect FALEO even though they were told they can no longer officially represent the SFPD and its agencies.
“The controversy in the political arena about the extrajudicial killings, that did not affect FALEO. They just told us we can no longer officially represent San Francisco police and all our agencies, kasi halo-halo kami dito sa team, but now we can no longer represent officially, but we can represent as a fraternal organization of law enforcement,” he said.
“FALEO is always intended and committed to continue to help our brothers and sisters in PNP kasi alam mo naman mahirap ang trabaho, fighting crime, murder, robbery, rape, and all those things don’t stop, they keep going,” he said.
Quema said FALEO is trying to stay out of the controversy.
"We never wanted to pull out [of our ties with PNP], we leave that out to politicians and those that are afraid about extrajudicial killings. If in fact that is occurring, I have no doubt there are mechanisms in place to investigate that,” he said.
He said the equipment they donated are basic equipment that could help Filipino to protect themselves.
“Murder, robbery, rape, fraud, all those things still occur and the policemen and policewomen need these basic police equipment to protect themselves and do their jobs properly. ‘Yung sinasabi nila sa extrajudicial killing is not related to these basic body armor, helmets,” he said.
He said they know at least two incidents where the bullet-proof vests they gave saved the lives of police officers.
“Some of these vests are used, some of them are new but all the PNP has is skin and bones. So if the bullets come into you and you have skin and bones, your chances of survival are greatly diminished. With the vest you have a fighting chance to surviving and going home to your families,” he said.
“Some of those helmets are [worth] $300. Sayang if we are not using it, why not give it to someone whose head it’s gonna protect because there are a lot of bad people in our world. In a perfect world you would not need a police but our world is far from perfect,” he added.
Asked  if FALEO will make efforts to convince SFPD to continue the program with PNP, Quema believed now is not the time for it.
“I think the political climate now is not conducive to asking our police officials to once again support this program. And then again they’ve never been to this program,” he said.
He said he wanted their officials to understand first where they are coming from.
“So I’m trying to get them to come here before I can persuade them to once again institute the program. ‘Di ba seek first to understand before being understood. I want to understand where they are coming from and make them understand where we are coming from,” he said.
FALEO is also selling commemorative coins to raise funds for the PNP's elite Special Action Force. —ALG, GMA News

Kuwait to execute Pinay, 6 others on Wednesday –report

Kuwait is set to execute seven convicts on Wednesday, including a Filipina, according to a report on Gulf News.
Except for Shaikh Faisal Al Abdullah and Nasra Al Enezi, both Kuwaiti nationals, the foreign convicts were not identified in the report, only saying that they are an Ethiopian, a Filipina, two Egyptians and a Bangladeshi.
Though the Filipina was not identified, OFW advocate Susan Ople posted on Facebook that she is "[p]raying for OFW Jakatia Pawa."
Pawa, 42, a household service worker, was sentenced to death by the Kuwait's Court of Cassation in 2010 for the killing of her employer's 22-year-old daughter in May 2006.
"May her life be spared from execution. I believe that she is innocent," Ople said as she urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to "act with dispatch" to save Pawa.
During a Senate labor committee hearing on Wednesday, Ople said Pawa called her brother, Lt. Col. Gary Pawa, around 5 in the morning to say her goodbye.
"He first learned about it from the sister," Ople said. "It was not through the DFA, nor through any government agency. It was the sister calling the brother and saying goodbye."
In Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. was having a meeting with DFA officials on Wednesday afternoon "to discuss the situation." 
He said the meeting aimed to see "if there are available remedies to the government at this stage."
A mother of two children aged 18 and 16 and a native of Zamboanga del Norte, Pawa earned a bachelor's degree in banking and finance from the Zamboanga Arturo Eustaquio Colleges in Zamboanga City, now Universidad de Zamboanga.
During court hearings, Pawa, who started working in Kuwait in 2002, denied killing her employer's daughter, saying the victim's family members had stronger motives to kill her because of an alleged illicit love affair with a male neighbor. —with Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez and Trisha Macas/KBK, GMA News

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pinoys in Rome throw support behind GRP-NDF peace talks

Filipinos in Rome have thrown their all-out support to the ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF).
Dalisay Solomon of the Hugpong Pederal Movement personally voiced this support during her meeting with GRP peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III on the sidelines of a peace forum last Sunday.
Bello and negotiators from both parties were in Rome for the third round of the negotiations.
A statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said Bello, during the forum, sought the support of overseas Filipinos in order for the peace process to move smoothly.
"We will succeed if we have you behind us," the statement quoted Bello as telling the forum, which was attended by Rome-based Filipinos.
Solomon, who has been living in Italy for 27 years, said she is happy that the peace talks is moving under the Duterte administration.

In another forum also on Sunday at the Basilica of Sta. Pudenziana, the members of the government and NDF panels also received commitments of support.

The forum discussed among others the issues on land reform and national industrialization.

GRP panel member Rene Sarmiento brushed aside doubts of some Filipino workers if the issues under the socio-economic reform can be addressed, saying, "There are agreed mechanisms to be implemented jointly or separately by the GRP and NDF."

Filipino migrant Jay Miranda vowed to campaign with Filipinos to back the peace process.
"Dapat magkaisa ang mga Filipino," he said, adding he would initiate programs to advocate for the peace process along with the campaign for a federal form of government.
                                                      
"Kailangan suportahan ang peace talks. Si [President Rodrigo] Duterte ang last card dahil siya lang ang may political will," Miranda said. —KBK, GMA News

Clinic exclusive to Pinoys opens in Abu Dhabi

A clinic catering exclusively to Filipinos has opened in Abu Dhabi, courtesy of the biggest healthcare provider in the United Arab Emirates.
Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Constancio Vingno Jr, Madame Yoko Ramos-Vingno and Dr. BR Shetty join the Filipino medical staff of the newly opened NMC Mabuhay Clinic. DFA photo
The medical center called Mabuhay Clinic opened its doors to patients on January 11, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Constancio R. Vingno Jr., according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The DFA said the Mabuhay Clinic is the only health facility of the New Medical Center (NMC) Healthcare chain of hospitals where the Filipino language can be widely spoken by its predominantly Filipino doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and staff.
NMC is currently the biggest healthcare provider in the UAE, the DFA added.
The opening of the facility was borne out of a meeting between Vingno and Dr. BR Shetty, NMC chief executive officer, regarding the healthcare provider's possible investments to the Philippines.
In his message, Ambassador Vingno thanked the NMC leadership for this initiative and enjoined the Filipino doctors, nurses and personnel of the Mabuhay Clinic to continue to provide the best possible healthcare to fellow Filipinos and other nationalities. —KBK, GMA News

Pinoy priest named as new bishop in Papua New Guinea

Pope Francis has appointed a Manila-born priest as the new bishop for the Church in Papua New Guinea, according to a report on the Catholics Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.
An undated photo of Bishop-elect Pedro Baquero and Pope Francis taken at the Vatican. L'Osservatore Romano/CBCP News
The report said Fr. Pedro Baquero, a 46-year-old Salesian priest, will be the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Kerema, located around 300 kilometers north-west in the capital of Port Moresby.
Born in Manila in September 1970, Baquero will oversee the 47-year-old diocese with 35 priests and 24 female religious who are working to serve more than 26,000 Catholics.
Baquero was ordained priest in 1999 after studying philosophy in the Don Bosco College in Canlubang, Laguna, and theology in the Don Bosco Study Centre in Parañaque.
According to the Vatican, Baquero has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish priest in Lariau, Kerema; advisor to the Salesian Community in Lariau; director of the Salesian School in Lariau; parish priest in Araimiri, Kerema; director of the Salesian School in Araimiri; director of the Gabutu Technical School, Port Moresby; and superior delegate of the Salesians in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Currently, the bishop-elect is vice-provincial of the Salesian Province of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
The CBCP article said Baquero is the third Filipino appointed as prelate for Oceania after Bishops Ryan Jimenez of Chalan Kanoa in Saipan in 2016 and Rolando Santos of Alotau-Sideia, also in Papua New Guinea, in 2011. —KBK, GMA News

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

'Nasty' Filipinas join January 21 Women's March in US

Thousands of Filipina Americans struck back in spades and joined millions of women in the US and around the world in calling on the new government to respect issues of gender equality, women’s choice, and immigration.
“It is important to me to be there because I love my daughters, admire my LGBT friends and respect my Muslim neighbors,” said fashion model and independent filmmaker Bessie Badilla when reached by The FilAm.
Christina Newhard: 'Making sure we can continue to have the space to express how we feel.' The FilAm photo
Proud to call herself a “nasty woman,” Badilla joined the January 21 Women’s March in New York City that began at the UN Headquarters on Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza and ended at the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Mayor Bill de Blasio said an estimated 400,000 people attended the march.
Many of the protesters in New York and in Washington D.C. where the main ‘Sisters March’ was organized, wore pink pussy hats in reference to Donald Trump bragging in a TV interview about having women around him and “grabbing them by the pussy.”
Placards ridiculed Trump’s “tiny hands” (‘Tiny hands, tremendous asshole’), his hair (‘Trump: We shall overcomb’), and offered sympathy for his Slovenian wife who appeared to be uncomfortable in the limelight (‘Free Melania’). Placards made reference to his shady Russian connection and his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin (‘Nyet my president’) and called attention to women’s issues (‘If you don’t have a uterus, you don’t have an opinion’).
“It’s good to be able to have a little laugh,” said Christina Newhard, a graphic design professional who joined the march in D.C. with about 35 Afghan women for whom she is working on a branding campaign. Their group left on a rented bus at 5:20 a.m. and reached the capital just before 11 a.m.
“It’s for all the things we value, things like human rights and wanting decency in government. Even freedom of expression, we can’t take it for granted now,” she said when asked by The FilAm why she joined the march. “It’s important to make sure we can continue to have the space to express how we feel.”
The feeling was empowering, she said. “There’s a lot of comfort seeing the numbers. So many people made the effort to come, to send the message to all and to be clear about what’s going to happen next knowing we have allies.”
Also in D.C. was Lea Junio, a nurse from Connecticut, who came for many reasons, but mainly for women’s rights and health care.
Lea Junio with a fellow marcher: 'Government should not be telling women what to do with their bodies.' The FilAm photo
“I believe government should not be telling women what to do with their bodies,” she said.
On the pending repeal of the Affordable Care Act – popularly known as Obamacare – she said, “I see a lot of my friends and how it will affect them when they lose their insurance.”
Like Junio, registered nurse Mary Joy Garcia Dia of New York came to D.C. to voice her position on women’s rights, health care, as well as immigration. The D.C. rally is estimated at 500,000 people, according to news reports quoting city officials.
“I marched because I’m an immigrant and because I’m a health care provider,” she said.
She took exception to Trump’s ‘America First’ slogan, saying it was Filipino immigrant nurses like herself and other foreign-born nurses who came to the US in the 1980s and 1990s to render “quality health care” at the height of the AIDS epidemic when the country was hit by a nursing shortage.
“As an immigrant myself, it’s important for us to stand up for our own contributions to this country,” said Garcia Dia, who is currently a Program Director at the Center for Professional Nursing Practice at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She was president of the Philippine Nurses Association-NY from 2006 to 2008. “There was a shortage in health care at the time because of fear of what Aids can do. We came and rendered quality service. This is ‘America First’ from a health care perspective.”
For Garcia Dia and Junio, the Women’s March felt like the 1986 Edsa People Power revolt all over again.
In the case of Junio, who was a college senior when she joined the massive peaceful rally that deposed Philippine Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, her participation in the Women’s March was a “more responsible” response compared to Edsa which she joined to “experience what it was like.”
“This time, there is a more moral responsibility to do something and not be silent,” she said.
For Garcia Dia, the Women’s March was one “tearful” moment.
“It reminded me of our Edsa people power,” she said, pausing briefly during the interview to hold back her emotion. “There was this powerful voice around me in a peaceful rally, and I was a part of it.”
That rally turned indignant, she said, when protesters passed the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. “People began to shout, show us your taxes and other things. There was a lot of anger.” —The FilAm

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