Undated file photo shows overseas Filipino workers gathering in an airport terminal.
The STAR/Joven Cagande, File photo
Bishop: Gov’t assistance to executed Filipina ‘not enough’
(Philstar.com) - February 1, 2019 - 7:05pm

MANILA, Philippines — A Catholic bishop said on Thursday that the assistance extended to the 39-year-old Filipina who was executed in Saudi Arabia earlier this week “was not enough.” 

“Yet, assistance and help should still be extended to her kin,” said Ruperto Santos, bishop of the Archdiocese of Balanga, in a statement on Thursday. Santos is the chairperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People 

“We commend to God her eternal rest, and we pray always for the safety and security of our overseas Filipino workers,” he was quoted in CBCP News.

Santos said he was deeply saddened over news of the OFW’s execution. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs, however, said they did provide legal support for the worker. 

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto said the government provided the Filipina a lawyer during all the stages of her trial, sent representatives to visit her and provided her family in the Philippines with regular updates about her case. 

The Saudi Supreme Judicial Council earlier classified her case as one where blood money does not apply under Shariah or Islamic law, DFA spokesperson Elmer Cato said.

READ: Filipina executed in Saudi Arabia

The DFA did not reveal the identity of the worker.

“This is a very sad and tragic news, especially that our own is involved. It is regretful that legal assistance was not enough. Yes, assistance and help should be extended her kin,” Santos said, adding that Filipinos should always pray for the safety and security of overseas Filipino workers.

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet on Thursday that the execution shows “why we cannot adopt the death penalty.” 

“We lose the argument of respecting our culture which abhors the taking of a human life by a cold formal state justice system when we believe a state exists to protect life,” he said. 

President Rodrigo Duterte has been pushing for the reinstatement of capital punishment since the beginning of his term in 2016. The bill passed on third reading in the House of Representatives in 2017, but has not yet been put to a vote in the Senate. 

READ: House passes death penalty bill on third reading

According to 2018 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are at least 2.3 million overseas Filipinos working in various countries abroad. 

A 2017 DFA report estimates 130 or more Filipinos were on death row abroad mostly on drug cases in over 50 countries.

Philippine embassies and consulates are supposed to help Filipino citizens caught in legal troubles abroad through its Assistance to Nationals fund. — Ryan Macasero


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