OFW group laments yet another Filipina domestic worker on brink of death

News Release

April 2, 2008

For reference: Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson

An alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families today lamented the final death sentence handed by Kuwait‘s Supreme Court to domestic worker May Vecina, 28 years old. At the same time, Migrante International appealed to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to spare her life.

“Less than five months after Marilou Ranario was similarly sentenced to death by the same court, we witness yet another Filipina domestic worker on the brink of death. We empathize with her family and demand that the Arroyo government truly exhausts all means to save her life. At the same time, this is another grim wake-up call regarding the very exploitative and vulnerable plight of OFWs, particularly of domestic workers,” says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson.

Migrante also called on the family to stay strong in this entire ordeal and to never stop fighting for May in Kuwait .

Domestic worker Marilou Ranario was sentenced to death by Kuwait‘s Supreme Court last November and following a Migrante International-led campaign to save her life, Arroyo was compelled in December to intervene and request that Kuwait‘s Emir issue her a pardon.

“It is incumbent that Arroyo again diplomatically intervenes in this case  especially since based on our experience, we will not be surprised if a closer look at May’s case reveals weaknesses in the support and legal defense provided May by the Arroyo government,” added Regalado.

“A genuine investigation of how the RP post addresses the systematic and gross abuse of domestic workers in Kuwait is also long overdue. According to May’s lawyer, Attorney Faisal al-Matar, May complained of mistreatment by her employer before the tragic incident,” she said, noting that monthly, there are likely hundreds of domestic workers in the country forced to ‘run away’ from abusive employers.

There are an estimated 73,000 OFWs in Kuwait , with 60,000 of them working as domestic workers earning less than US$200 monthly.

According to Migrante International, there are more than 25 OFWs on death row around the world while five OFWs have already been beheaded overseas under the Arroyo government.

All the more reason not to remit on Arroyo’s birthday

“These cases plus the long list of other cases of extortion, corruption, abandonment and wanton disregard for OFWs and their families’ rights and welfare is more than enough reason why OFWs want Arroyo booted out of Malacanang,” said Bragas-Regalado.

Bragas-Regalado stated further that aside from Vecina, there are hundreds of OFWs currently languishing in Kuwaiti jails and in cramped embassy run shelters. Recently, fifty Filipinos were reportedly scrounging Kuwaiti dust-bins for food.

Arroyo’s long list of sins against migrants and the Filipino people emboldens more and more OFWs not to remit their earnings on Arroyo’s birthday this Saturday as part of their sector’s contribution to the growing oust Arroyo movement. In Hong Kong, the Zero Remittance Day will be extended to April 6.

To conclude, Bragas-Regalado said to Gloria, “Prepare to be zeroed.”#

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