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Philippines to lose leverage in negotiating clemency for its OFWs on death row abroad

Filipina domestic worker Jakatia Pawa
Filipina domestic worker Jakatia Pawa was executed in Kuwait.
The Philippines stands to lose its leverage in negotiating clemency for its overseas workers on death row abroad amid talks of reviving the death penalty in the country, a non-government organization said Thursday.

Amnesty International (AI) campaign program coordinator Wilnor Papa said there are about 88 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row in different countries who fear their impending death, but the death penalty is something being discussed in their home country.

"We would lose leverage in making deals, discussing, and asking for clemency from different government because we execute our citizens. What's going to stop them?"

On Wednesday, Filipina domestic worker Jakatia Pawa was executed with 3 others. She 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 the Philippines, a House panel has endorsed the death penalty bill to the plenary, where it will be subjected to debates and possible voting.

This, after President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to pass measures that will restore death penalty and lower the age of criminal liability to help move his anti-crime campaign forward.

But Papa maintained that for the Philippines to better protect the workers it sends abroad, aside from constantly communicating and working with them, it should prove to the host countries that it has "better laws" and assure these countries that their citizens in the Philippines would not suffer the same fate.

Papa also lamented that the news of her execution came as a surprise even to the Philippine government, who was supposed to stay on top of her case.

Somewhere along the line, he said, "something didn't happen correctly."

"They said they provided her with that much lawyers, then what happened? If the government provided her with lawyer, then the lawyer should have been communicating constantly with our government," he said.

He urged the government to instead be proactive in dealing with OFW cases, and not wait for a conviction from the court before sending a lawyer to assist.

"This shouldn't be the case. Even for common criminals here in the Philippines, our rule is the government should provide lawyers.

Source: abs-cbn.com, January 26, 2017


Duterte restoring death penalty will speed up OFW executions


The Duterte administration's push for death penalty puts more overseas Filipino workers (OFW) on death row at risk of getting executed sooner than later, opposition lawmakers said on Thursday.

Rep. Jose Atienza of Buhay party-list and Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao issued the warning in light of the death of 44-year-old OFW Jakatia Pawa who was put to death by the Kuwait government on Wednesday afternoon for the murder of her employer's 22-year-old daughter.

"One of the many repercussions of the return of the death penalty is that the Philippine government would be deprived of the moral high ground when it comes to our official appeals for clemency to foreign governments to spare the lives of our citizens who are facing execution. It would be highly problematic for us to plead with other governments for compassion if we ourselves are killing our own citizens here," Atienza said in a statement.

"Restoring the death penalty will deprive the Philippines of the moral high ground
when it comes to our official appeals for clemency to foreign governments
to spare the lives of our citizens who are facing execution." Photo: R. Duterte
"Once Congress reinstates death sentences here [and] President Rodrigo Duterte makes good on his threat to execute 5 to 6 malefactors every day, a greater number of Filipino citizens on death row abroad are bound to be executed by foreign governments. We would have more Jakatia Pawas," he added.

Pawa, who worked as a household service worker in Kuwait, is survived by her 2 children.

In 2012, she lost her husband, who was shot to death in their home province in Mindanao.

"We cannot implore foreign governments to uphold universally recognized human rights, including the right to life, if we ourselves do not respect the sanctity of every human life," Atienza argued.

Baguilat, who is also against the pending death penalty bill, which is a priority legislation of the Duterte administration, shared Atienza's sentiments.

"Of course, our government loses its moral ascendancy and credibility to ask for clemency when it sees nothing wrong in exacting justice through the death penalty," Baguilat said.

According to government records, at least 87 Filipinos are facing the death penalty abroad, mostly in Malaysia and China.

These 87 include Mary Jane Veloso, the 31-year-old Filipino woman who was supposed to be executed by firing squad in Indonesia last year but obtained a last-minute reprieve on the appeal of then-Philippine President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the arrest of Veloso's illegal recruiters in Manila.

Source: Manila Times, January 26, 2017

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