Philippines: Unless govt did something, beheaded OFW was certain of his death

Jun. 14, 2007

MANHILA — OFW Reynaldo Cortez, 41 years old, was beheaded this morning in Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of a Pakistani driver in May 2002. His execution comes in the midst of the Philippine governments Migrants Month this June.

Weeks before his death, Rey sent Migrante International Chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado text messages saying that unless the Philippine government acted on his case, he will surely be executed.

Kapag di talaga inasikaso ng ating gobyerno ang kaso ko, talagang mapuputulan ako ng ulo. Kasi ayaw talaga ako patawarin ng pamily (If the Philippine government doesnt take action regarding my case, I will really be beheaded because the family does not want to forgive me), reads Reys text message sent 10 May 2007 at 6:38am.

According to Shariah law, the family of the victim may choose to accept or reject an offer of blood money in exchange for forgiveness of the accused. In Reys case, the family of the Pakistani driver reportedly refused to forgive Rey.

Rey was sentenced to death by the Saudi Royal Court on 30 May 2005. The death sentence came despite earlier court decisions that sentenced Rey to 15 years then 10 years imprisonment.

Prior to his arrest, Rey Cortez was a welder at the Al-Allah Car Workshop in Riyadh. He first went to Saudi Arabia in 1993. He leaves behind six children. His family lives in Guagua, Pampanga.

Based on Department of Foreign Affairs figures, there are 33 other OFWs, including two women, still on death row.

OFWs on death row are often victims themselves. As migrant workers, they are among those who have the fewest resources for their defense. In many instances, the OFWs imprisoned are not given adequate legal representation or attention by RP posts abroad. They may have also been subject to forced confessions, were framed-up or committed acts in self-defense, said Bragas-Regalado.

Rey is the fifth OFW executed abroad under the Arroyo administration. In March 2005, OFWs Sergio Aldana, Antonio Alvesa, Wilfredo Bautista and Miguel Fernandez were also beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

According to Migrante International, other OFWs still on death row in Saudi Arabia include Rodelio Lanuza, Idan Tejano, Marjana Andal Sakilan and Marilou Ranario who is on death row in Kuwait. #

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