BY AUBREY MAKILAN
November 27, 2007 – 9:05 p.m.
Tears flowed with the rain as almost everyone at the picket in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) cried, and some even wailed after learning from news reports that the Kuwaiti Court of Cassation upheld the decision to impose the death penalty on overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Marilou Ranario who was convicted of killing her abusive employer.
“Nasaan na ‘yung sinasabi ni Vice President Noli de Castro na 60 to 70 percent ang (tsansa) ng kaso ni Marilou?” (What happened to the claim of Vice Pres. Noli de Castro that there is a 60 to 70 percent chance for a favorable decision on Marilou’s case?) asked Rosario, Marilou’s 64-year old father. De Castro earlier said that there was a “70 percent chance” that Marilou’s sentence would be commuted to life sentence. He also said that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already drafted a letter for the Kuwait Amir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, seeking clemency for Marilou.
“Ina din s’ya, alam n’ya ang mararamdaman ‘pag di mo na makakasama ang mga anak mo. Sana tulungan nya ang ate ko,” (She is also a mother and she knows how it feels when you are not with your children. I hope she would help my older sister.) cried Weng,
Marilou’s younger sister. Maita Santiago, secretary of Migrante International, said Marilou’s fate is now in the hands of Kuwaiti Amir who will or will not sign the implementation of Marilou’s sentence. To show their condemnation of the alleged neglect by the Philippine government of Marilou Ranario’s case, protesters repeatedly held noise barrages and painted the DFA logo on the gate with red.
Representatives from the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrants Workers’ Affairs of the DFA later fetched the Ranario family for the official briefing at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Protesters booed the government representatives for not informing them about the details of the decision. Santiago of Migrante International, a representative from the women’s group GABRIELA and Atty. Claire Padilla of the Save Marilou Ranario Movement (SMRM) accompanied Rosario at the briefing.
Padilla, who is a lawyer, said at the protest that the defense lawyers handled Ranario’s case well at the Court of Cassation. The government said two highly respected Kuwaiti defense lawyers –Ahmad Qurban and Abdel Majid Khuraibet — argued Ranario’s case at the instance of the Philippine government.
But Padilla argued that the hiring of good lawyers should have been done at the beginning of the case. She said that during the hearings at the lower courts, the defense could have presented a psychiatrist to prove that maltreatment and possible paranoia or fear of the evil intentions of her employer drove Marilou to commit the crime. She also said there were other points in the case that could have been pursued to favor Marilou.
She stressed that the Ranario family was kept in the dark about Marilou’s case and were only given the details this November. “Doon pa lang, may failure na sila (government). Dapat ang isang humaharap sa kaso alam kung ano ang tungkol sa kaso para alam ang depensa,” (Right from the start there was a failure in the government’s part. Those helping in her defense should have knowledge of the ins and outs of the case.) she said. She added that she doubts whether Marilou was well-informed of the gravity of her case.
Meanwhile, Migrante International received reports that Encarnacion, Marilou’s mother, and two children were transported to Cebu for a talk with Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Rosario said he was also told that he would be taken to Cebu tomorrow.
Migrante International and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan will lead an indignation rally at Welcome Rotunda at 12 n.n. on Nov. 28 to press the Arroyo administration to appeal to the Kuwaiti Amir to save Marilou from death by hanging. Marilou’s nieces and nephews will join the protest at Welcome Rotunda.
“Dapat ‘di naman siya pabayaan. ‘Di s’ya dapat gamitin na parang manika lang..dahil buhay ‘to,” (They should not neglect her case. They should also not play around with her life.) said Marilou’s nine-year old nephew Joseph Jasper Ranario.
Although wet and chilling under the rain, Marilou’s nephews expressed their determination to campaign to save their auntie’s life even if it means being absent from school or even if they get sick because of the vigil and activity this evening. Not even the bad weather will stop them from joining the rally tomorrow. “Sasama kami sa rali, balewala sa amin ang lagnat. Ang mahalaga mailigtas si tita,” (We will join the rally tomorrow, we won’t mind the fever. What is important is to save auntie’s life.) said Raffy Ranario, Marilou’s 12-year old nephew.>