ALMOST 4,000 overseas Filipino workers are detained in jails, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Monday.
"At least 3,732 Filipinos were languishing in jails in 53 countries at the beginning of the year… Of this number, 108 were in death row in six countries, with 69 in Chinese jails awaiting execution or clemency," Recto said.
"Malaysia hosted the most number of Filipinos behind bars, with 2,236, mostly immigration cases as the country had launched a crackdown against undocumented aliens. Next was China, including Hong Kong and Macau (345), followed by Saudi Arabia (277), USA (208), Italy (97), United Arab Emirates (75), Kuwait (72), Japan (59), Peru (37) and Qatar (34)," he added.
Meanwhile, total number of OFWs in trouble with their host country's law as of December last year is 7,601 where work disputes or immigration-related was recorded at 2,236.
"What is worrisome is the number two cause, which is the possession or trafficking of illegal drugs. This accounted for 646 cases. In fact, most of those in death row were there because of drugs," Recto said.
"One consulate alone, Shanghai, reported that they were monitoring the cases of 32 Filipinos who were either in the dock or already in jail serving sentences for heroine smuggling," Recto said.
It is because of drugs that three Filipinos were in jail high up in the Andes in Peru, he said.
The third cause is "morality cases" with 510 Filipinos in jail.
Recto, citing the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) records, said running afoul with local customs sent 151 men and 11 women in Saudi Arabia and Qatar to the slammer. Their violation: drinking alcohol.
Six women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, were facing "witchcraft" charges, according to the DFA report cited by Recto.
Other cases were theft (297), murder and homicide (114), fraud (105).
However, diplomatic posts failed to specify the nature of 3,446 cases.
In line with this reports, the senator called for the augmentation of the "Assistance-to-National Fund."
Under the proposed 2014 budget of the DFA, the said fund will increase to P300 million from P150 million this year.
"But this is still a drop in the bucket compared to the P 1 trillion that OFWs are forecast to remit this year," Recto said.
According to Recto, DFA only reported 80 Filipinos in death row in seven countries, 28 in China. (CPT/Sunnex)