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RP seeks clemency for OFW on Kuwait death row

MANILA, Philippines -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Vice President Noli de Castro and Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo have sought executive clemency for Filipino domestic helper Marilou Ranario as she appeals her death sentence in Kuwait.

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Ricardo Endaya said in his report to the Department of Foreign Affairs that all three Philippine leaders had made representations with the Kuwaiti ruler to grant Ranario clemency as the Supreme Court there starts hearing her appeal of the lower court’s decision sentencing her to hang for killing her employer.

Ranario lost the case in the Kuwaiti Court of Appeals. Her employer’s family, however, refused to accept her blood money in exchange for her life.

The 33-year-old teacher from Tubod, Surigao del Sur went to Kuwait on December 10, 2003 to work as a domestic helper. While there, she had complained of repeated maltreatment from her employer, prompting her to kill him on January 11, 2005.

Ranario is among the 35 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) presently on death row in foreign countries, including one in Brunei, two in China, one in the US, four in Kuwait, nine in Saudi Arabia and 10 in Malaysia.

Endaya said that Kuwait's highest court, the 11-member Court of Cassation, heard oral arguments on the Ranario case last November 13.

At that hearing, two highly respected Kuwaiti defense lawyers, Ahmad Qurban and Abdel Majid Khuraibet, argued Ranario's case at the instance of the Philippine government. The court has set the promulgation of its decision for December 27, 2007.

Endaya said that throughout Ranario’s detention and the judicial proceedings, from the Criminal Circuit Court to the Appellate Court and the Court of Cassation, the Philippine government had spared no effort to assist Ranario and her family.

He said Philippine embassy officers have regularly visited and counseled her and attended court proceedings.

On the other hand, the DFA and the embassy assisted Ranario's parents in their travel to Kuwait in April 2006 to visit her at the Sulaibiya Central Jail.

Also, Ranario's two children are provided counseling by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and scholarships by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Already, five seasoned and highly respected Kuwaiti lawyers have so far been provided by the government to defend her.

Endaya said that through the efforts of the Office of the President, the department and the embassy, tanazuls (affidavits of forgiveness) have been secured from the family of the victim.

Endaya said he and Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos were personally overseeing efforts to save Ranario’s life.



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