MANILA, Philippines – An advocacy group for millions of Filipinos working overseas has condemned the execution of a Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia and accused the Aquino administration of failing to adequately defend Carlito Lana.
“This shows migrant rights are not protected. There is not enough legal assistance given by the Aquino government to our expatriates abroad,” said Mic Catuira, spokesman of Migrante International.
“That is why our Filipinos abroad go through these travesties,” Catuira said, insisting that Lana had acted in self defense when he killed his employer.
According to Migrante International, 6 Filipinos have been executed abroad since 2010.
On Saturday, December 12, Vice President Jejomar Binay issued a statement confirming the execution of Lana.
Binay, who is Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns, cited initial reports from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh that Lana was taken from his cell in Saudi Arabia at around 9:30 am on Friday and executed.
Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said that the government was not aware that Lana was due to be executed Friday. The Saudi government does not give advance notice to prisoners and their foreign embassies of execution dates, and official notices are sent after the execution.
Jose said the Philippine embassy in Riyadh would assist Lana’s family in repatriating his remains, but he gave no further details.
Saudi media said Lana shot his employer, a 65-year old Saudi national, then tried to flee using his victim’s car. Lana ran over the victim’s head in the attempt to flee.
The family of the victim did not issue an affidavit of forgiveness to prevent the execution under Saudi law.
An embassy report said Lana claimed that his employer was a good man and they had good relations, but he was being pressured to join Muslim prayers during the designated time.
According to reports from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Lana’s lawyer tried to convince the victim’s son to meet Lana’s mother and receive her letter asking for forgiveness, but failed.
President Benigno Aquino III had earlier sent a letter to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz asking for his intercession to convince the heirs of the victim to enter into an amicable settlement.
About 10% of Filipinos work overseas, attracted by the higher salaries than they can earn at home. Their remittances are a major pillar supporting the country’s economy.
The welfare of Filipino overseas workers is a volatile issue at home and Manila has in the past lobbied foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia and China, to save the lives of Filipinos on death row in those countries. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
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