The Philippines stands to lose its leverage in negotiating clemency for its overseas workers on death row abroad amid talks of reviving the death penalty in the country, a non-government organization said Thursday.
Amnesty International (AI) campaign program coordinator Wilnor Papa said there are about 88 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row in different countries who fear their impending death, but the death penalty is something being discussed in their home country.
"Mawawalan tayo ng leverage na makipag-deal, makipag-discuss, humingi ng clemency from different governments because we execute our citizens. What’s going to stop them?," he told "Mornings@ANC."
(We would lose leverage in making deals, discussing, and asking for clemency from different government because we execute our citizens. What’s going to stop them?)
On Wednesday, Filipina domestic worker Jakatia Pawa was executed with three others. She was sentenced to death by the Kuwait’s Court of Cassation in 2010 for the killing of her employer’s 22-year-old daughter.
In the Philippines, a House panel has endorsed the death penalty bill to the plenary, where it will be subjected to debates and possible voting.
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to pass measures that will restore death penalty and lower the age of criminal liability to help move his anti-crime campaign forward.
But Papa maintained that for the Philippines to better protect the workers it sends abroad, aside from constantly communicating and working with them, it should prove to the host countries that it has "better laws" and assure these countries that their citizens in the Philippines would not suffer the same fate.
Papa also lamented that the news of her execution came as a surprise even to the Philippine government, who was supposed to stay on top of her case.
Somewhere along the line, he said, "something didn’t happen correctly."
"They said they provided her with that much lawyers, then what happened? If the government provided her with lawyer, then the lawyer should have been communicating constantly with our government," he said.
He urged the government to instead be proactive in dealing with OFW cases, and not wait for a conviction from the court before sending a lawyer to assist.
"This shouldn’t be the case. Kahit nga sa mga common criminals dito sa Pilipinas, ang rule natin, the government should provide lawyers," he said.
(This shouldn't be the case. Even for common criminals here in the Philippines, our rule is the government should provide lawyers.)