Reviving death penalty risks OFWs on death row – lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines – The reimposition of death penalty in the country would likely hurt the Philippine government's efforts to save overseas Filipino citizens (OFWs) on death row abroad, a lawmaker said.
Buhay Representative Lito Atienza said in a statement on Saturday, July 10, that reviving capital punishment in the Philippines could affect the country's appeals for clemency for OFWs who are facing execution abroad.
“Should Congress reinstate the cruel and inhuman punishment, it would be extremely problematic for us to plead with other governments for compassion, if we ourselves are killing own convicts here – if we ourselves do not respect the value of human life,” Atienza said.
In 2015, OFW Mary Jane Veloso was about to be executed in Indonesia for drug trafficking, but was granted an 11th hour reprieve due to appeals from the government and civil society groups.
Atienza said that based on data from the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are currently at least 88 Filipinos facing the death penalty abroad – mostly in Malaysia and China – for various crimes.
Malaysia is one of the top 10 destinations of OFWs, based on data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. Other top OFW destinations include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Qatar, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Taiwan, Bahrain and Canada.
Of these 10, only Canada and Hong Kong have abolished the death penalty.
“Right now, without the death penalty for a long time already, the Philippine government has great moral authority to invoke humanitarian grounds and implore foreign governments for them to show mercy to Filipino citizens who are about to be put to death,” Atienza said.
In his first press conference after winning the May 9 elections, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to reintroduce capital punishment in the country by hanging.
Duterte has even met with his allies in Congress on Saturday, July 9, and asked them to revive the death penalty.
Through Republic Act No. 9346, the death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 2006, and replaced with life imprisonment and reclusion perpetua (detention of indefinite length, usually for around 30 years). – Rappler.com