Most number of OFWs on death row executed under Aquino – Migrante

December 15, 2014

By Migrante International
Membrs of Migrante International holding banner stating "Save the lives of OFWs on death row!"

Image from Remate

Global alliance for overseas Filipinos Migrante International expressed deepest sadness and sympathy for the family of Carlito Lana, an overseas Filipino worker who was beheaded for murder by the Saudi government.

“This is a dark day for migrant Filipinos, especially for those on death row abroad. We call for an investigation on why there have been the most number of executions that pushed through under Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s term,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Lana was the sixth OFW on death row executed within Aquino’s four years in office, the most number of executions under one regime since the Philippine labor export policy was implemented in the 1970s.

Martinez said that Lana’s family sought their help when he was arrested and that they have been monitoring the status of case since. Lana admitted to killing his employer out of self-defense.

“He was suffering abuses in the hands of his employer. When the crime happened, he even rushed his employer to the hospital but they met a vehicular accident on their way. That was when the Saudi police arrested him. From the start, we have questioned the Philippine government if he was given legal assistance given the nature of his case,” Martinez said.

He said, “We are deeply concerned over the fate of other OFWs on death row and those in detention. There are 123 more OFWs on death row, and at the rate the Aquino government is going, we can expect more executions in the next few years. The government has not shown transparency nor accountability for failing to save the lives of our OFWs on death row.”

Migrante also demanded an explanation from the government on why funds for legal assistance for OFWs in distress have been slashed since 2010, while there have been reports that P52 million in legal funds for OFWs were unused since 2011.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) attributed the unused funds to a clause in the Migrant Workers Act stipulating a “ceiling” to the amount of assistance that is allowed per OFW in distress. “We find this justification unacceptable and extremely irrational. On top of OFWs on death row, there are at least 7,000 OFWs in jails abroad, some awaiting death row sentences. The common occurrence is they get arrested and undergo investigation without any representation or legal counsel. Because of this, they are deprived of due process and go straight to jail without any legal assistance from the PH government,” Martinez said.

“In the case of Lana, we will not be surprised if, at all, it will be discovered that legal assistance was offered only at the last minute. The same happened to the first five who were executed.”

Lana’s execution came a mere five days before December 18, International Migrants’ Day.

The plight of OFWs on death row will be one of the major issues that Migrante International will bring forth on December 18. Members of Migrante International from all over the world will march to Mendiola to reiterate their call for Aquino to step down from office. “We do not want more OFWs to die of government failure and criminal neglect. We want Aquino out.” ###

Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 0939-3914418