Pinoy on Qatar death row innocent of spying charges, says driver

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 26 2014 08:06 PM | Updated as of May 27 2014 04:06 AM

MANILA – The driver of a Filipino who was sentenced to death after being convicted of espionage and economic sabotage in Qatar said his former employer and friend is innocent of the charges against him.

Speaking to dzMM, Renie Magcosta said he and his former employer were among the nine overseas Filipino workers who were arrested in 2010 for alleged espionage.

They were accused of spying for Filipino officials, passing on sensitive military and economic information from Qatar.

But Magcosta maintained that his former employer and the two other convicted Filipinos are innocent of the charges.

''One hundred percent hindi po magagawa ng ninong ko iyon dahil kilala ko ang tao. Nakita ko po kung gaano siya kabuting tao. Sila ay mga pastor,'' he said.

Magcosta said he was jailed on April 15, 2010 and was released on July 1 that same year with the six other Filipinos. The rest were not as fortunate, with one sentenced to death and two others sentenced to life in jail on April 30.

''Kahit ako po ay nakulong din. Nakulong po ako ng 75 days - solitary confinement. Apat na taon na po namin itong ipinaglalaban,'' he said.

The Filipino's case began as an administrative matter at a state-owned firm where he worked before being considered by the Qatar government as a national security concern, according to Magcosta.

''Kasi po magpapalit po ng liderato ang kanilang kumpanya, dahil may papalit na bagong lider, kumbaga, inembistahgan itong mga pinalitan,'' Magcosta said.

''So sa pag-iimbestiga, nagkaroon ng hearing, at may isang pagkakataon na na-pressure na po itong ang aking ninong. May isang meeting na hindi sya umattend dahil nakinig siya sa payo ng kanyang mga kaibigan na huwag na raw umattend... Ang nangyari doon hinanap na siya ng awtoridad at naging wanted na."

Asked about the evidence against them and the basis of filing the charges, Magcosta said, ''Ang ginagamit nilang ebidensya eh number 1, iyung mga kuwento na napagkwentuhan nila sa restaurant, dahil kumakain kami noon sa restaurant, at yung kasamang dalawang involved na nahatulan din eh magkakaibigan."

''Ginamit nilang basehan ang mga kwentong iyon, and then yung mga nakikitang mga pictures, na galing dito sa Pilipinas, na may mga hawak pong baril."

The relatives of the Filipino sentenced to death are still able to visit him, Magcosta said.

''Ang mga bata ay nakakadalaw naman sa kanilang ama at nakakausap po,'' Magcosta said, referring to the Filipino's three children.

Magcosta said the Filipinos have appealed the verdict and a hearing on this is petition is ongoing. He added the Philippine embassy in Qatar is giving aid to the Filipinos.