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PIA Press Release

19 OFWs saved from death since January 2006

Manila (23 December) -- A total of 19 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been saved from execution through the efforts of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the representation of other government officials since Jan. 2006.

In a report to Malacanang, the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it has monitored 52 death penalty cases involving OFWs.

Of the 52 cases, 19 were "commuted through the efforts of the President, the Vice President and the Department (DFA) conducting high-level negotiations with the host governments."

The latest to be saved from the hangman's noose was Marilou Ranario whose death sentence was commuted by the Emir of Kuwait early this month following the personal intercession of the President.

The 19 commuted death penalty cases comprise 37 percent of the total OFWs on death row abroad.

Of the 19, seven have been repatriated to the Philippines since last February. Six of the seven were convicted of murder in the Middle East before they were sent home, while the seventh -- Jun Jailani -- was convicted of drug trafficking in Kuala Lumpur.

The seven OFWs now back in the country are Damaso Atienza (Riyadh) and Reynaldo San Pedro (Jeddah), both of whom were released in Feb. 2007; Sarah Dematera (Riyadh), May 2007; Jailani (KL) and Melvin Obejera (Jeddah), Aug. 2007; and Ronilo Arandia (Jeddah) and Fermie Salarza (Cairo), Nov. 2007.

Of the 12 OFWs formerly on death row but whose sentences have since been commuted, three were convicted of multiple murders; eight were convicted of murder, while one was convicted of drug trafficking, also in Kuala Lumpur.

The convicted OFWs and their commuted sentences are as follows:

  • Marilou Ranario (Kuwait murder), life imprisonment.
  • Guen Aguilar (Singapore murder), 10 years imprisonment.
  • Victoriano Alfonso (Jeddah multiple murder), eight years imprisonment plus 1,000 lashes;
  • Andy Baginda (Sabah KL drug trafficking), life imprisonment.
  • Wilson Basilio (Jeddah multiple murder), eight years imprisonment plus 1,000 lashes.
  • Ma. Fe Cruzado (Kuwait murder), 20-30 years imprisonment.
  • Efren Dimaun (Jeddah multiple murder), eight years imprisonment plus 1,000 lashes.
  • Aristocles Escalante (Jeddah murder), five years imprisonment after payment of blood money.
  • Joel Sinamban (Jeddah murder), eight years imprisonment plus 1,000 lashes.
  • Zenaida Taulbee (Washington DC murder), 157-198 (13-16.5 years) months imprisonment.
  • Rolando Villamin (Doha murder), 10 year imprisonment after payment of blood money; and
  • Norito Abono (Riyadh murder), five years imprisonment plus 500 lashes after payment of blood money. (OPS) [top]
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