Press Release
November 5, 2007

Loren bats gov't support for OFWs facing legal woes

Senator Loren Legarda urged yesterday the government to leave no stone unturned in providing assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) facing legal troubles, especially those who have been sentenced to die.

Loren stressed that while justice must be afforded to all crime victims, justice must also be accorded to accused and convicted OFWs by way of ensuring they have ample legal representation abroad.

"Our concern is for all OFWs in trouble to be afforded due process in their host countries. This is a basic responsibility of the state to its citizens, wherever they may be," Loren said.

In as much as OFWs in trouble are punished under the laws of other countries, Loren said that the Philippine government can always appeal for humanitarian consideration for OFWs facing the death sentence.

"Sadly, the queue of OFWs to the gallows is getting longer. As a country which has abolished the death sentence, the Philippines should exert efforts to appeal for commutation of their sentence," she said.

At present, two more Filipinas in Kuwait joined the list of OFWs who were sentenced to die by their host countries.

Loren said she would make representations with other Middle East countries, like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the hope of a getting a more compassionate sentence for the two Filipinas.

In the past, death sentences meted out on OFWs had been commuted in consideration of widespread appeal for justice to be based on compassion, said Loren.

In the Middle East, some other sentences had been reduced in severity through the acceptance of so-called blood money by the relatives of crime victims.

Loren emphasized that the Philippine government must stack up all the mitigating circumstances in favor of OFWs, who serve as a pillar of the Philippine economy.

"One such mitigating factor is the fact that in most cases, convicted OFWs are first-time offenders who may have succumbed to the inhuman treatment by their employers," she said.

"Nothing can justify the commission of crimes, but a hallmark of civilized society is that g that they have not been convicted of any crime in the Philippines.

The senator pointed out that OFWs get clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before they are allowed to work abroad,

attesting that they have not been convicted of any crime in the Philippines

Loren said the government should consider enjoining the help of the European Union, which frowns on the death penalty, in seeking help for OFWs on death row.

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