Monday, February 6, 2017

Solon asks for inventory of OFWs in jail, facing court cases

A lawmaker called for the complete inventory of overseas Filipino workers facing imprisonment and court cases abroad so that Congress can draft a comprehensive legal assistance program to avert possible future executions.
"Lagi na lang tayong nabubulaga na meron na palang bibitayin in a few days," Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said in a statement on Sunday.
Castelo asked the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Foreign Affairs to provide the list to Congress, so that can discuss the competence of the agencies tasked in saving OFWs on death row.
"We would like to find out exactly how many OFWs have been convicted or undergoing trial, the nature of their cases, the penalty they are facing, what can be done to help them," he said.
Also, Castelo said that the DFA and OWWA should each have a different plan and approach for every case an OFW faces.
Moreover, he said that Congress will also require both agencies to present their ongoing programs on how to prevent OFWs from being involved in criminal acts or from being victimized by abusive employers that push them to commit crimes.
"Kung kulang ang pondo nila, they should tell Congress so we can make the appropriation for a legal defense fund for OFWs," Castelo said.
Filipina domestic helper Jakatia Pawa was executed in January for killing her employer's 22-year-old daughter in 2007. 
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III was also forced to travel to Kuwait in an attempt to save another OFW on death row, Elpido Nano
Castelo said the public only became aware of OFW's impending execution after Pawa's brother appealed for help from the government.
Castelo claimed the DFA was informed of Pawa's fate only on January 24, a day before her execution, saying the DFA and OWWA would have saved the life of Pawa if they were informed earlier.
"If the DFA and OWWA had been on their toes, the notice would not have come too late," Castelo said. Joseph Tristan Roxas/LBG, GMA News

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