How Jakatia Pawa’s execution caught PH off guard

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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While OFW Jakatia Pawa was sentenced to death in 2010, the public got wind of the specific execution date only on Wednesday, the execution date itself

GOVERNMENT SIDE. DFA spokesman Charles Jose answers questions about the execution of OFW Jakatia Pawa in Kuwait on January 25, 2017. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Unlike previous cases of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) on death row, the execution of OFW Jakatia Pawa on Wednesday, January 25, caught the Philippines off guard.

While Pawa was sentenced to death in 2010, the public got wind of the specific execution date only on Wednesday, the execution date itself. (READ: OFW in Kuwait executed while asserting innocence)

Pawa’s brother himself, Lieutenant Colonel Angaris Pawa, learned about the scheduled execution only at around 5 am on Wednesday, according to both Senator Cynthia Villar and ABS-CBN News.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, on the other hand, knew about the scheduled execution as early as Tuesday, January 24.

“The embassy was informed by the prison authorities only yesterday. They were told that the execution will be implemented the following day,” said Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose. 

Jose also said that Pawa called her family on Tuesday.

“The family found out first,” Jose said. “At the same time the embassy was informed, OFW Pawa was given a cellphone to call her family,” he added.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, however, Lieutenant Colonel Pawa said on Wednesday: “Tumawag kapatid ko kanina, around 5 o’ clock in the morning. Kasi nga nabigla ako kanina sa pagtawag niya, kasi umiiyak. Sabi niya, ‘Kuya, bukas, bibitayin na kami.‘”

(My sister called a while ago, around 5 o’ clock in the morning. I was surprised when she called because she was crying. She said, “Brother, tomorrow, I will be executed.”)

The Philippines is around 5 hours ahead of Kuwait. This means it was midnight in Kuwait when Pawa called her brother. 

It was unclear if Lieutenant Colonel Pawa was the only family member that the late OFW called.

Unlike Mary Jane Veloso

Lieutenant Colonel Pawa said their family should have been informed of the execution two to three days before it happened.

Pawa, a mother of 2 who is also a college graduate, maintained her innocence till her death. She had been accused killing her employer’s 22-year-old daughter. (READ: Executed in Kuwait: Who was OFW Jakatia Pawa?)

With the execution that caught the Philippines by surprise, OFW rights advocate Susan Ople criticized the DFA on Wednesday for failing to prepare Pawa’s family for the execution.

Kung alam na ng embassy kahapon, bakit wala man lang from the regional office ng DFA kahapon din pinuntahan sana yung pamilya, hinanda ‘yung kalooban,” Ople told ABS-CBN News. 

(If the embassy knew about it yesterday, why was no one from the regional office of the DFA, yesterday as well, who visited her family and prepared them for it?)

This was the first execution of an OFW in Kuwait after 5 to 6 years, Jose said.

It was also the first execution of an OFW on death row during the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. He said around 88 OFWs remain on death row abroad.

The DFA and the Philippine embassy “made last-ditch efforts to try to save” Pawa, Jose added. 

In the case of other OFWs previously on death row, Filipinos got to know about the execution schedule days before the execution proper. 

In the case of Mary Jane Veloso, an OFW sentenced to death in Indonesia, she was supposed to be executed on April 28, 2015.

She was able to inform her sister about it on April 25, 2015.

Days before the execution, there was much noise in media to urge the Philippine and Indonesian governments to stop the execution. 

At around 2:20 am on April 29, 2015, Jose announced to reporters at the DFA that the Indonesian government granted Veloso a reprieve. 

Veloso is alive to this day. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email