AN OPPOSITION lawmaker on Thursday urged the leadership of the House of Representatives to rethink its position to pass the death penalty bill as a greater number of Filipino citizens on death row abroad were bound to be executed by foreign governments once Congress revived the penalty at home.
House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza warned: “It saddens us to say that once Congress reinstates death sentences here, and once President Rodrigo Duterte makes good his threat to execute five to six malefactors every day, there is a high likelihood we would have more Jakatia Pawas,” Atienza said.
Jakatia Pawa, 44, and a native of Zamboanga Sibugay, was hanged by the Kuwaiti government on Jan. 25 for the murder of her Kuwaiti employer’s 22-year-old daughter.
But Jakatia’s brother, Air Force Col. Angaris Pawa, speaking from Zamboanga City, said his sister was framed by her Kuwaiti employer.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Thursday Pawa, following the Islamic law, would be buried in Kuwait.
Pawa left her husband and two children to work as a domestic helper in Kuwait. She later lost her husband, who was shot to death in their home province in Mindanao in 2012.
The President’s plan to renew judicial executions would “emasculate” in a big way the Philippine government’s efforts to redeem the lives of overseas Filipino workers who are on death row abroad for ordinary offenses committed in their host countries, Atienza warned.
“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 – for foreign governments to spare the lives of our citizens who are facing execution,” Atienza said.
“Once Congress reinstates the cruel and inhuman punishment, 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.
“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 added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said at least 87 Filipinos are facing the death penalty overseas, mostly in Malaysia and China, for various felonies.
The 87 include Mary Jane Veloso, the 31-year-old Filipino woman who was set to be executed by firing squad in Indonesia last year, but who obtained a last-minute reprieve after Manila asked
Jakarta that she be first allowed to provide testimonial evidence against her alleged human trafficker in a Philippine criminal case.
Atienza said eight of the top 10 foreign destinations of OFWs “are on record as subscribing to capital punishment and aggressively carrying out executions.”
The top 10 foreign destinations of deployed land-land based OFWs are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Qatar, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Taiwan, Malaysia, Bahrain and Canada, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Of the 10, Atienza said only Canada and Hong Kong have abolished the death penalty, while the rest are actively killing lawbreakers.
The other countries that host many OFWs and that still adhere to the death penalty include Jordan, Oman and Japan, he added.