This story was taken from Bulatlat, the Philippines's alternative weekly newsmagazine (www.bulatlat.com, www.bulatlat.net, www.bulatlat.org).
Vol. VII, No. 4, Feb. 25-March 3, 2007


 

MIGRANT WATCH

In Kuwait:
Husband Pins Blame on Gov’t for Wife’s Death Sentence

The husband of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) sentenced to die by hanging in Kuwait said he should not have listened to Philippine government officials who advised him to keep silent regarding his wife’s case. “Lalo nilang pinabayaan e. Dapat sana lalo kaming nag-ingay,” (They neglected the case more. We should have raised our concerns in public.) he said.

BY AUBREY SC MAKILAN
Bulatlat

The husband of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) sentenced to die by hanging in Kuwait said he should not have listened to Philippine government officials who advised him to keep silent regarding his wife’s case. He accused government officials of neglect. 

Death Row

In 2005, Migrante International reported that four OFWs were executed in Saudi Arabia.  They were Sergio Aldana, Miguel Fernandez Jr., Wilfredo Bautista and Antonio Alvesa.

Migrante also reported that in September 2005, Marilou Ranario, an OFW domestic, was convicted by a Kuwaiti lower court and sentenced to death by hanging allegedly for killing her employer, Najat Mahmoud Faraj Mobarak, on Jan. 11, 2005. The Kuwaiti Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the lower court meting out the death penalty on Ranario on Feb. 17, 2006.

The final judgment on Ranario’s case will still issued by the Cassation Court, Kuwait’s high tribunal.

Migrante said, in an interview with Bulatlat, that it is Ranario who should be given justice because she was maltreated.

Media reports cited court records showing that Ranario only meant to “harm” her employer who had abused her; that was after Ranario allegedly overheard her Kuwaiti employer telling another person of her (the employer’s) plan to arrange for some men to rape the maid.

In a related development, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced, in January 2006, that six OFWs charged with offenses punishable by death had their sentences reduced to jail terms. The six are Guen Aguilar, Zenaida Taulbee, Ronilo Arandia, Fernie Salarza, Melvin Obejera and Ma. Fe Cruzado.

Maita Santiago, Migrante International secretary-general, welcomed the news but challenged the government to save all OFWs in Death Row and to act pro-actively to prevent abuses committed against OFWs.

’Di dapat umasa sa awa lagi ng Kuwait” (We should not always rely on the mercy of Kuwait), Santiago said. “Dapat comprehensively i-address ang mga paglabag sa mga karapatan ng OFWs, lalo na sa Middle East” (The government should comprehensively address violations on the rights of OFWs especially in the Middle East), she added.

Ranario is one of the 30 OFWs in Death Row that Migrante reported in 2005. DFA spokesperson Claro Cristobal said, in a phone interview with Bulatlat, that they could not give the exact number of OFWs in Death Row as it is a “fast running” figure.

Neglect

Ranario’s family sought the help of Migrante because they did not see any development in the government’s handling of her case.

Lolito Dalibutan, Ranario’s common-law husband, said he gets updates on his wife’s case only from Migrante.

’Pag tumawag po ung hipag ko dito (sa Department of Foreign Affairs), minsan wala (ang taong kakausapin namin)” (When my sister-in-law calls the DFA, sometimes the person handling my wife’s case is indisposed.), he complained. “O kaya sasabihin nila wala pang update” (Or they just tell us that there is no update).

Cristobal debunked Dalibutan’s accusations saying that the DFA has a record of assistance especially legal service given to Ranario and her family.

“The Philippine government has never been negligent in providing support to Ranario and family,” he said, adding that they have not missed a single hearing in the lower and appellate courts.

He also said the government filed a petition for a review and reversal of the lower court decision.

Dalibutan regretted following the advice of DFA officials that they keep silent on her wife’s case. “Lalo nilang pinabayaan e. Dapat sana lalo kaming nag-ingay” (They neglected the case more. We should have raised our concerns in public.), he said.

Manahimik daw kami dahil’ pag nakulitan baka di daw gawin ang para sa asawa ko” (We were told that if they become annoyed with us they might not do what they had to do for my wife.), he lamented.

Broken promises

They agreed, he said, because they were promised that the government will act on his wife’s case.

Santiago said the DFA even brought Ranario’s parents to Kuwait last year for “photo opportunities” to make the government look good.

After the visit, Dalibutan said, Ranario’s parents were given money which they used to buy three pigs and a carabao.

Hindi po namin kailangan ‘yung tulong na yun,” (We don’t need that kind of assistance.) he said. “Ang pinakaimportante na tulong nila ‘yung makauwi po ang asawa ko hindi po ‘yung ganitong halaga dahil kahit paano nabubuhay kami,” (The most important assistance they can offer us is to bring my wife back home…not the money they gave us because we are able to survive somehow.) he added.

The husband also recalled that Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Ricardo Endaya promised them that he will bring Ranario home when he returns to the country in December 2006.

Nasaan na ‘yung pangako nya na isasama na niya asawa ko?” (Where is his promise that he will bring my wife back?), he asked.

Santiago recalled that Vice President Noli de Castro, who is also the presidential adviser for OFWs, appealed for the commutation of Ranario’s sentence to life imprisonment during his visit to Kuwait in March 2006.

The vice-president’s appeal, the migrant leader said, was contrary to the wishes of Ranario’s family that she be released.

Hopeful

Ranario used to help her driver husband by working as a teacher. Dalibutan recalled that his wife was forced to work as a domestic abroad to earn money for their two children’s education and for their dream wedding. Dalubitan said that they also planned to buy a jeepney.

It has been three years since Ranario left to work in the Middle East and a year and a half since her conviction. Though uncertain about the future, Dalubitan is still hopeful that they will be together again.

If her wife would be set free, he said, “Ayaw kong maghiwalay pa kami ulit. Kung nasaan ako, gusto ko nandun din sila (ng mga anak namin).” (I do not want to be far from her again.  I want them to be with me wherever I am.)

But whenever he thinks about their current predicament, he cannot help but feel disappointed over the government’s handling of his wife’s case.  “Talaga naman pong pinapabayaan sya,” he said, “’Yun po ang malaking kagagawan nila, nasaan na ‘yung pangako nila?” (Her case was really neglected. That is really the fault of the government.  What happened to their promises?)  Bulatlat

 

© 2007 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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