Fact checks on public officials

FACT CHECK: No Senate death sentence for employers of Filipino domestic worker


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FACT CHECK: No Senate death sentence for employers of Filipino domestic worker
The Senate is currently investigating the Ruiz family for their alleged maltreatment of their former domestic helper Elvie Vergara

Claim: Senators Raffy Tulfo and Jinggoy Estrada sentenced Pablo and France Ruiz, former employers of domestic helper Elvie Vergara, to death by hanging.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in the thumbnail of a YouTube video posted on September 17 by the channel AI TOO KAYE, which has 74,700 subscribers. As of writing, the video has 2,900 views, 266 likes, and 20 comments. 

The video’s thumbnail featured the text “hinatulan na ng bitay” (sentenced to death), implying that the Ruiz couple received the death sentence. 

The bottom line: The death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 2006, and the Senate’s motu proprio investigation into the Ruiz family’s alleged maltreatment of Vergara is still ongoing. 

The claim that the Ruiz couple was sentenced to death by hanging is merely the YouTube poster’s commentary on the topic. The video also did not contain proof that Tulfo or Estrada ordered the death penalty for the couple.

Ongoing investigation: The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights launched an inquiry on the Ruiz family’s alleged abuse after Vergara’s plight surfaced online. 

Vergara claimed that the Ruiz family physically beat her to the point of partial blindness and denied her wages. Doctors at the Senate hearing presented scans showing fractures on the front and side of Vergara’s skull. Her nose bridge was also dislocated. 

On September 12, the case’s primary witness, “Dodong,” survived a gun attack by two unidentified gunmen, prompting senators to consider providing more security for Vergara and the witness.

Death penalty in the Philippines: The country’s history with the death penalty can be traced back to the Spanish colonial period. It was abolished under the 1987 Constitution, but reinstated in 1993 during former president Fidel V. Ramos’ administration to address the rising crime rate.

In 2006, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9346, abolishing the death penalty yet again. The following year, the Philippines also signed and ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty.

While capital punishment has not been reinstated, there have been several attempts to reimpose it. In May 2023, Senator Robin Padilla filed Senate Bill No. 2217, which would impose the death penalty for law enforcers and elective officials involved in illegal drugs. As of writing, the bill is still pending at the committee level.

Rappler has already debunked false claims related to the death penalty:

Tisa Nacional/Rappler.com

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