Philippines: Migrante calls on Arroyo to fulfill Cortez familys last wish

Jun. 19, 2007

MANILA — An alliance of organizations composed of OFWs and their families today call on Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to indeed fulfill the last wish of OFW Rey Cortez family for his remains to be repatriated to the Philippines.

Given that she already failed Rey and his family once by not being able to avert his execution, she should not fail them again in this last request, says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson.

The Migrante leader further explained that if Reys remains are not returned to the Philippines, the alternative is as tragic as his untimely death.

Citing a report on Saudi Arabia by the US-based Human Rights Watch, Bragas-Regalado said that foreigners who are beheaded in Saudi Arabia are often buried in unofficial, secret and unmarked graves across the Kingdom.

If the Arroyo administration allows this to happen to Rey, they will be complicit in intensifying the grief and heartache already suffered by Reys family, especially his six children. If at least he is buried in the Philippines, his family will be allowed some semblance of closure and healing, she added.

Ermita promises to fast-track repatriation

In a radio interview recently, Executive Secretary Ermita promised that the Department of Foreign Affairs would extend assistance to fast-track the repatriation of Reys remains.

We welcome Executive Sec. Ermitas pledge. At the same time, we criticize Usec. Conejos for unnecessarily aggravating the Cortez familys grief by stating outright that that the government will not take efforts to retrieve Reys body because this is allegedly not allowed under Saudi Arabias laws, said Bragas-Regalado.

In earlier statements, Usec. Conejos stated outright that the DFA would not seek the repatriation of Reys body.

If Usec. Conejos is not sure of his facts or of the official response of the Arroyo administration regarding this case, its better if he defers making statements to media, she added.

Bragas-Regalado concluded by calling on the families and friends of other OFWs on death row to also speak out to ensure the rights and welfare of their loved ones are truly upheld and advanced. #

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