Maltreated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and relatives of other migrant workers joined various organizations and individuals gathered on Oct. 10, on World Day against Death Penalty, to intensify the campaign to save Marilou Ranario and all OFWs on death row around the world.
BY AUBREY MAKILAN
Vol. VII, No. 36, October 14-20, 2007
Maltreated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and relatives of other migrant workers joined various organizations and individuals gathered on Oct. 10, on World Day against Death Penalty, to intensify the campaign to save Marilou Ranario and all OFWs on death row around the world. The Save Marilou Ranario Movement (SMRM) was also launched formally at the gathering at the Peacebell inside the Quezon City Memorial Circle (QCMC).
Supporters from Migrante International, GABRIELA, Kenneth Causon Movement, and Barangay (village) Holy Spirit marched around the QCMC to raise the public awareness about OFWs on death row. At the QCMC, The SMRM is composed of different faith-based groups, the academe, women’s groups, teachers’ organizations, migrant groups and their advocates.
Ranario’s siblings, Weng and Allan, did not work on that day to join the campaign.
Joselito Alejo’s relatives were also there to give their support. Alejo was charged with murder in 1997 in Saudi Arabia because he had the misfortune of having the same name as the real perpetrator. Earlier, he told Bulatlat he was interrogated and tortured by Saudi policemen. His case was only brought to Saudi Arabia’s high court five years after he was arrested. When the Saudi court decided to impose 350 lashes, the Philippine embassy appealed for clemency. Alejo at first did not want to appeal because it meant conviction. He later acceded in order to get back to the Philippines earlier.
Meanwhile, Melody, wife of Reynaldo Cortez, beheaded OFW in Saudi on June 13, sent messages of encouragement through text: “Marilou, lakasan mo ang loob mo. Dito lang kami para suportahan ka at wag kang sumuko” (Marilou, be strong. We are here to support you, don’t give up).
Repatriated OFWs who are sheltered at the Migrante International office helped in the preparation of the event, signature campaign and other activities and campaigns of the group.
“There are more than 8 million Filipinos overseas – that’s more than 8 million reasons why we support this global day of action against the death penalty,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International chairperson and SMRM convener. “ OFWs on death row symbolize the greatest heights of tragedy and injustice that can befall any overseas Filipino worker. Today, there are 35 OFWs on death row and among them is Marilou Ranario, the young mother sentenced to death in Kuwait two years ago.”
Marilou languishes on death row after a Kuwaiti Court sentenced her to death by hanging in September 2005 for killing her female employer. An appeals court upheld this decision in February 2007. Marilou’s case is under final appeal with Kuwait’s highest court, the Court of Cassation. Oral arguments are set from October to December this year with the final decision expected by January or February 2008.
“Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will have blood on her hands if Marilou’s death sentence is implemented, Bragas-Regalado added, noting that legal assistance and the facilitation of a visit by her parents to Kuwait was a result of a concerted campaign by Migrante and her family in 2005. “Marilou was commodified, exported and then criminally-neglected under her regime. To date, the Arroyo regime has yet to fully pursue and exhaust all forms of legal and diplomatic interventions needed to save her life.”
The migrant leader also said that Migrante International, along with the Save Marilou Ranario Movement, will hold a series of activities from the local to the international levels to gather broad support for Marilou.
“Her case is an urgent one and each day that passes brings us one day closer to her final verdict,” she said. “Through a concerted campaign to save her life, let us work together to ensure the verdict is a favorable one.”
Citing the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) report in Congress, she said there are 35 OFWs presently on death row including one in Brunei, two in China, one in the U.S., four in Kuwait, nine in Saudi Arabia and 10 in Malaysia.(Bulatlat.com)