Lawmaker wants complete inventory of jailed OFWs

  • A Lower House representative has urged OWWA and DFA to provide a complete inventory of OFWs facing imprisonment
  • The solon said this will enable the Congress to draft measures that will extend legal assistance to distressed migrant workers
  • The lawmaker’s proposition came following the death of Kuwait OFW Jakatia Pawa whose news of execution came only a day before the tragic date

MANILA, Philippines – To prevent another Jakatia Pawa, a Lower House solon has called for the complete inventory of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) facing cases abroad, especially those who are in jail and on death row.

Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo of Quezon City’s Second District has urged the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide a headcount of migrant workers facing imprisonment abroad and submit the same to the Congress.

This would enable the Congress, Castelo said, to draft measures that will extend comprehensive legal assistance to these distressed OFWs.

“Lagi na lang tayong nabubulaga na meron na palang bibitayin in a few days,” said Castelo in a statement.

[We are often surprised (by news) that an OFW is about to be executed in a few days.]

“We would like to find out exactly how many OFWs have been convicted or undergoing trial, the nature of their cases, the penalty they are facing, what can be done to help them,” the solon added.

Castelo’s proposition came after the country was shocked by the execution of Jakatia Pawa, an OFW on death row in Kuwait, who was accused of killing her employer’s daughter. News of her execution reached the Philippine government only a day before she was hanged; surprising the entire nation.

The lawmaker added that the OWWA and the DFA should be able to come up with a specific plan for each and every OFW facing legal cases.

“Kung kulang ang pondo nila (If they lack funds), they should tell Congress so we can make the appropriation for a legal defense fund for OFWs,” said the congressman.

In Pawa’s case, the Philippine government allotted $25,000 (around P1.2-M at that time) for her legal defense, hiring Khalil Al-Qattan Law Offices and Abdullah Al-Sabah Law Offices to defend her case.

However, the government assistance apparently came late as she was already sentenced to die for the crime on April 13, 2008 by a court of First Instance; a punishment which was upheld by an appeal court more than a year later.