Jakatia Pawa of Zamboanga Sibugay was convicted of killing her employer’s daughter; a Kuwaiti court has upheld the verdict. Migrante International denounces the Arroyo regime for not doing enough to save OFWs on death row in other countries.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Another overseas Filipino worker is likely to face the death penalty soon after a court in Kuwait upheld his death sentence early this week, Migrante International has reported.
Jakatia Pawa, 34, of Zamboanga Sibugay province, was earlier convicted for allegedly killing her employer’s 22-year-old daughter in January 2007.
“Pawa said a relative of the victim’s was responsible for the murder after the victim found out about the relative’s extramarital affairs,” Garry Martinez, chairman of Migrante International, said Friday.
Martinez said the knife used in the killing, which was said to be the incriminating evidence, did not have Pawa’s fingerprints.
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo has instructed the Philippine ambassador to Kuwait, Ricardo Endaya, to facilitate the filing of the appeal before a Kuwaiti court within 30 days.
Meanwhile, a recent report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Vice President Noli de Castro, presidential adviser on OFWs, as saying that Pawa was never neglected by the Philippine embassy in Kuwait, adding that from the very start of the case, the government already provided her with legal assistance.
But Martinez said otherwise. He said that in a recent dialogue with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Migrante found out that an OFW in conflict with local laws is only given an interpreter while the embassy studies the case to determine if the OFW really needs a lawyer.
Martinez said the embassy usual only intervenes “when the victim is already appealing the verdict.” He cited the case of Jennifer Beduya, an OFW who was sentenced to death and who was given a lawyer only after she was already beheaded.
“The first 24 hours after a suspect is arrested is very crucial,” Martinez said. The “interpreter that they are giving OFWs on death row would not be able to object from the investigator if the suspect is being asked leading questions that would make her appear guilty before the court, because all the interpreter does is translate.”
In the case of May Vecina, an OFW who was pardoned on Tuesday after she was sentenced to life imprisonment, the government did not really help much, Martinez said. “Vecina was pardoned because she behaved very well during the five years she was in prison,” Martinez said. “It was all her effort.”
Vecina was sentenced to death after she allegedly killed her seven-year-old ward. Before the pardon, the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. She is expected to be home this week.
Martinez, meanwhile, said Migrante is having a hard time trying to contact the family of Pawa because they live in Zamboanga Sibugay in Mindanao. “We believe that the family would soon find a way to contact us. We have been trying to locate them by tapping local NGOs in their province,” he said.
Martinez said they are planning to write a letter to the prince of Kuwait to spare the life of Pawa or at least review the investigation. Migrante will also hold protest actions and signature campaigns to pressure the Arroyo administration to save Pawa’s life. “We believe prayers work faster than the slow work of the government,” Martinez said.
“Whatever happens to Pawa, her case all boils down to the labor export policy of the Arroyo administration,” Martinez said, adding that there are nearly 59 OFWs who are on death row since Arroyo came to power in 2001. Six have been executed. (Bulatlat.com)