MANILA, Philippines – In light of the looming execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on death row in Indonesia, Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is urging her colleagues to move on current pending bills that aim to protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). (READ: PH to 'exhaust' all remedies to save Mary Jane)
“The case of Mary Jane Veloso, who is now on death row in Indonesia, amid allegations of drug trafficking, adds sense of urgency for the Senate to intensify legislation protecting our OFWs,” the senator said.
Santiago emphasized that she wrote the committee on labor earlier this year to ask that they prioritize her measures, which includes at least 5 resolutions seeking inquiries, in aid of legislation, on cases involving OFWs.
“It appears that Veloso is a victim not only of illegal recruitment, but also of drug syndicates using unsuspecting OFWs as drug couriers. Such cases may be avoided if we put in place stronger safeguards,” Santiago said.
The other bills Santiago has filed in relation to OFW protection include:
(1) S.R. No. 992 filed on October 14, 2014, directing the Senate to investigate reports of the double visa scheme by recruitment agencies
(2) S.R. No. 345 filed on November 7, 2013, calling for hearings on the need to strengthen state protection for OFWs and anti-human trafficking efforts in the country
(3) S.R. No. 48, filed on July 15, 2013, urging investigations on the alleged deployment of overseas Filipino workers to war-torn countries despite bans imposed by the government
Santiago highlighted the need to put in “stronger safeguards” against illegal recruiters. “It appears that Veloso is a victim of not only illegal recruitment but also of drug syndicates using unsuspecting OFWs as drug couriers,” she said.
Globally, at least 123 other Filipinos have been sentenced to death.
“All legal and diplomatic means must be exhausted to ensure that Filipinos abroad are not wrongfully deprived of life or liberty. But the ideal situation is one where remedy is not necessary. We must prevent these cases from happening,” Santiago said. – Rappler.com