Migrante Hopes Philippines Appeal Not Too Late for OFW on Death Row

MANILA, Philippines — Following reports of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seeking clemency for Marilou Ranario, the OFW on Kuwait’s death row, an alliance of groups composed of overseas Filipinos and their families say they hope the appeal is not too late.

“Although the appeal should have been made two years ago, we hope and pray that it’s still not too late. Government intervention at the highest levels should have been undertaken immediately for Marilou and all other OFWs on death row,” says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson.

Marilou, 35 years old, was sentenced to death by hanging on 28 September 2005 by Kuwait’s Court of First Instance of the Criminal Circuit Court for allegedly killing her employer. Prior to her employer’s death, Marilou complained of being abused and maltreated.

Despite the issuance of a tanazul or letter of forgiveness by the victim’s family in November 2006, Kuwait’s Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence. Marilou’s case is now before the Supreme Court and oral arguments were heard last November 13. The promulgation of the final verdict is set for December 27.

“The lack of transparency from the DFA and other agencies regarding these types of issues is also problematic. During a recent inter-agency dialogue with the family that was organized by the Save Marilou Ranario Movement, the representative from the DFA explained that there was already blood money available but he failed to mention that this had already been refused. Conflicting and vague reports by the DFA only worsen the anxieties surrounding this case,” said Bragas-Regalado.

Marilou is among the approximately 35 OFWs on death row with one in Brunei, two in China, one in the US, four in Kuwait, nine in Saudi Arabia and 10 in Malaysia. Under the Arroyo administration, 5 OFWs have already been executed.

Action plan needed for all OFWs on death row

“A comprehensive and concrete public action plan regarding these cases is imperative – for the sake of these OFWs and the many others who continue to toil in vulnerable and slave-like conditions around the world,” added Bragas-Regalado.

“Along with the appeal, it is also high time for the Arroyo administration to review its extremely exploitative Labor Export Policy (LEP). Given that the LEP’s main objective is the commodification and export of Filipinos in exchange for much-needed dollar remittances – the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers will never be truly protected,” she added.

The Migrante leader concluded that, “with only 40 days left before the issuance of the final verdict, we commit to escalating even further the campaign to save her life so that she may soon be reunited with her family.”

Efforts by Migrante International to save the life of Marilou have been ongoing since 2005. The campaign intensified this year with the launch of a Save Marilou Ranario Movement and the holding of an international day of action on November 13. Filipino groups led by Migrante, in different countries including Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong organized vigils and dialogues with the Kuwait embassies in their areas on this day. In the Philippines, there were also coordinated actions from Baguio to Butuan City. Marilou hails from Tubod, Surigao del Norte.

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