The Duterte administration’s push for death penalty puts more overseas Filipino workers (OFW) on death row at risk of getting executed sooner than later, opposition lawmakers said on Thursday.
Rep. Jose Atienza of Buhay party-list and Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao issued the warning in light of the death of 44-year-old OFW Jakatia Pawa who was put to death by the Kuwait government on Wednesday afternoon for the murder of her employer’s 22-year-old daughter.
“One of the many repercussions of the return of the death penalty is that the Philippine government would be deprived of the moral high ground when it comes to our official appeals for clemency to foreign governments to spare the lives of our citizens who are facing execution. It would be highly problematic for us to plead with other governments for compassion if we ourselves are killing our own citizens here,” Atienza said in a statement.
“Once Congress reinstates death sentences here [and]President Rodrigo Duterte makes good on his threat to execute five to six malefactors every day, a greater number of Filipino citizens on death row abroad are bound to be executed by foreign governments. We would have more Jakatia Pawas,” he added.
Pawa, who worked as a household service worker in Kuwait, is survived by her two children.
In 2012, she lost her husband, who was shot to death in their home province in Mindanao.
“We cannot implore foreign governments to uphold universally recognized human rights, including the right to life, if we ourselves do not respect the sanctity of every human life,” Atienza argued.
Baguilat, who is also against the pending death penalty bill, which is a priority legislation of the Duterte administration, shared Atienza’s sentiments.
“Of course, our government loses its moral ascendancy and credibility to ask for clemency when it sees nothing wrong in exacting justice through the death penalty,” Baguilat said.
According to government records, at least 87 Filipinos are facing the death penalty abroad, mostly in Malaysia and China.
These 87 include Mary Jane Veloso, the 31-year-old Filipino woman who was supposed to be executed by firing squad in Indonesia last year but obtained a last-minute reprieve on the appeal of then-Philippine President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the arrest of Veloso’s illegal recruiters in Manila.