Press Release
March 19, 2010

On 15th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion
Villar vows more resources for protection of OFW rights

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar yesterday pledged to devote more resources to protect the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) under his administration.

Villar issued the statement on the 15th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, a domestic worker who was executed in Singapore in 1995 for the murder of fellow OFW Delia Maga and a four-year-old Singaporean child under the latter's care.

"I have heard first-hand terrible stories, litanies of physical abuse, maltreatment, rape, unfair labor practices - sufferings that our countrymen go through in search of a better life. The sad truth is that these abuses and acts of injustice continue to be perpetuated," Villar said.

According to media reports, two Filipino witnesses claimed just before the execution that the father of the Singaporean child framed Contemplacion for the murders. They alleged that the father killed Maga in rage after finding his son to have accidentally drowned.

The child was an epileptic who was alleged to have an attack while in the bath tub of which Maga was not aware. The Singaporean court considered and rejected the testimony.

Contemplacion's execution went ahead despite then President Fidel Ramos's plea to the Singaporean government to stop it.

"Flor Contemplacion's story should have been an eye-opener, both for those who choose to work overseas of the risks associated with working in a foreign land and, more importantly, for the government to be more vigilant and responsive to the needs of our OFWs. Unfortunately, things have gone from bad to worse," Villar said.

At the same time, Villar reiterated his call to the government to exhaust all means to save sentenced OFW Jakatia Pawa from the death row in Kuwait. On Jan. 19, Kuwait's highest court upheld the death sentence on Pawa for the killing of the 22-year-old daughter of her employer. Pawa, 33, from Zamboanga del Norte, and mother to two children, graduated with a degree in banking and finance but opted to work as a domestic helper in Kuwait so she could better provide for her family.

"Working abroad should not be the end solution to our poverty problem. The social costs are too high and are taking their toll on our social structure," he added.

OFWs remittances continue to rise and giving the economy a big boost. Last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported OFW remittances last year reached $17.35 billion, up 5.6 percent despite the global economic crisis.

But Villar said this unprecedented level of remittances from OFWs, acknowledged as a major factor why the Philippines has been able to weather the international financial crunch, should be matched by the government in terms of support and services for OFWs, especially those in distress.

He cited reports that last year, close to two million Filipinos left the country to work abroad, which roughly translates to 4,500 workers being deployed daily- a record-high in overseas deployment.

"If given the chance to lead this country, I will ensure that government agencies - such as POEA, OWWA and our consulates abroad - will all be up to the task of providing the necessary assistance to advance the rights and welfare of our OFWs," said Villar.

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