• Official: OFWs ‘fairly treated’ in Taiwan

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    The Taiwanese government has assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) of fair treatment and protection amid rising cases of distressed migrant employees abroad.

    In Kuwait alone, one Filipina domestic helper was executed while another was beaten to death late last month.

    “In contrast to the unfair and discriminatory treatments meted out to the Filipino OFWs in some countries, more than 150,000 Filipino OFWs in Taiwan are fairly treated and well protected by the law in Taiwan,” Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, representative of Taiwan to the Philippines, wrote in an article dated February 10.

    He said that foreign workers are guaranteed by the national minimum wage and receive exactly the same national health insurance as Taiwanese do.

    In terms of safety, Lin assured that Taiwan is a “peaceful, law-abiding and non-threatening” place for foreigners.

    So far, only two Filipinos committed serious crimes in Taiwan.

    They have received fair and transparent trials based on the due process of law, Lin said.

    “The public’s confidence in the judiciary in Taiwan is high, as its legal system is based on efficiency, accessibility, judicial transparency, fairness, and integrity,” the envoy wrote. “Taiwan’s legal system is not geared toward exercising the principle of vengeance. Rather, its major aim is to set the convicts on the right path and focus on the importance of rehabilitation.”

    Filipina Nemencia Armia was initially sentenced to death for stabbing her job broker in 2007. She was first sentenced to death by the Kaohsiung District Court in Taiwan. However, on “humanitarian ground,” the Taiwan High Court’s Kaohsiung branch overruled a lower court’s death sentence and twice sentenced Armia to life in prison rather than death in 2010.

    In addition, another Filipino Darwin Gorospe Sarmiento was also sentenced by Taiwan’s District Court in 2015 to death for killing a grocery store owner in 2014.

    However, Taiwan’s Supreme Court said Sarmiento did not intend to kill the owner, but was trying to rob the grocery store. It also noted Sarmiento had been under severe financial pressure to settle medical bills for his daughter who has a congenital heart disease.

    Eventually, instead of the death penalty, the Supreme Court in Taiwan commuted the sentence of Sarmiento to life imprisonment.

    “Taiwan’s clemency for the said two Filipinos over the above murder cases shows that Taiwan has not only adhered to the due process of law, but also fulfilled the universal value of the respect for human rights and humanitarian compassion,” Lin said.

    He added, “If the above-mentioned convicts have been penitent and behaved well in prisons, they are eligible to apply for the parole after serving certain years required by the law in Taiwan.”

    Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, according to Lin, is willing to help the families of Armia and Sarmiento if they wish to visit them in Taiwan.

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