3 on death row overseas from Davao, group says

THREE of the 78 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row are from Davao Region, the Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions Inc. (MMCEAI) reported.

Mindanao Migrants executive director Inorisa Elento said one of the three Filipinos from Davao Region is on death row in China for allegedly carrying illegal drugs, while the two others are facing death in Middle East for murder.

Of the 78 OFWs nationwide, 24 are facing on death row in Malaysia, 29 in Middle East, 21 in China, one in United States (US), one in Indonesia and one in Thailand based on the earlier report released by the Malacañang.

According to the Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., no case is imminent for execution, Elento said.

She added that the death penalty with a two-year reprieve could be commuted to life imprisonment.

Elento, meanwhile, said their organization has also served 35 cases among the OFWs who had been victim of abuse, abandonment, trafficking, and illegally recruitment since January in 2015.

Though the figures have relatively decreased from the 40 cases recorded in 2014, Elento said, such issues and concerns raised by the OFWs should be attended to.

In line with these concerns, the Mindanao Migrants sees the need for the national and local government to track and record those Filipino working abroad, including those who have plans to go abroad.

"The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) only has figures of the documented OFWs, what about the others, those who did not pass through the legal channels," Elento said.

"Our challenge to the national and local government, especially to barangays, is to monitor their constituents. When we say tracking, apil na ani kadto bitaw naga-plano pa lang mu-abroad," she added.

Judith Reyes, 63, who has been a skilled worker in Kuwait for 12 years, said being an overseas Filipino worker is not easy. She added that she had been abused by their employer, too.

Reyes worked as tailor in Kuwait from 1999 to 2011. Her work started at 10 a.m. and ended at 10 p.m. but there were times, the work extended at 11 p.m. because of the employers demand.

"Until such time nawala name gibayaran sa among employer. Nakulong pa jud ko for five months kay wala na-renew akong ikama or residence certificate (Until our employer was no longer paying our wages. I was jailed for five months because I could not renew my residence certificate)," Reyes said.

"And when I went out from the jail, ginapabayad pa jud ko sa among employer ug 300-riyals monthly kay kuno renta sa visa. Akong giduol akong concern sa Owwa, but then wala ko nila tagda (my employer was demanding 300 riyals claiming this as my monthly rental for my visa. I asked help from Owaa but they did not attend to my concern)," she added.

Based on her experience, Reyes said, the Owwa including the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) cannot accommodate all the concerns of the OFWs. Elento said such issues and concerns face by the OFWs should be addressed by both national and local government.

She added that the government should have mechanisms in place to know how many migrant workers it has.

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