Refusing to dismiss them as mere "statistics", Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo called on the Philippine government to immediately address the cases of the reported 83 Filipinos placed on death row abroad.
“It is surprising how many of our Filipinos overseas are facing death row and most of us are not aware of it,” Salo, chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, said in a statement Friday, March 3.
“The most recent case of Mary Jane Veloso, the only one in Indonesia, wildly agitated our political landscape for quite some time; now, how do we make of these 83 cases?” he asked.
"Let us never forget that these 83 Filipinos are not just statistics, they represent the lives of our Kabayans who have tried to seek better lives for their families, but have fallen on dire times. In all this, we must do all that we can to assist them and their families,” he said.
During the public hearing of the Salo committee Thursday, March 2, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials bared that 83 overseas Filipinos had been sentenced to death on various charges, most of which are drug-related.
Fifty-six of these cases are in Malaysia alone. The rest are in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, United States (US), Japan, and Brunei.
“Most of these cases are already final and executory, and the only possible remedy we can have with them is securing a pardon,” DFA Assistant Secretary Paul Cortes said. during the briefing.
“As our only hope is a presidential pardon, I am appealing to our DFA and DMW (Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to immediately undertake the necessary interventions and representations on our Kabayans’ behalf,” Salo said.
The veteran solon said that the Philippine government, through the DFA and the newly created DMW, gives priority attention to distressed overseas Filipino workers through relevant assistance programs.
“But, finding out that we have these 83 Filipinos working abroad about to be executed should make us pause and assess how we can do more. Let us strive to reclaim not only their liberties, but also their precious lives,” he stressed.