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.
“Ang sa akin lang ay lagi na lang tayong too late the hero, reactionary, lalung-lalo na sa parte ng DFA, na sa ngayon, mismong spokesperson hindi niya ma-account kung ilan ang nasa death row,” Bertiz said.
“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.
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.
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