Migrante International criticized Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for disregarding reports that three OFWs in death row for the killing of three other Filipinos were tortured into confessing to the crime. Her appeal for the commutation of the sentence of the three to Saudi Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Migrante said, is tantamount to admitting that they are guilty of the crime.
Migrante International criticized Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for disregarding reports that three OFWs in death row for the killing of three other Filipinos were tortured into confessing to the crime.
Arroyo asked for commutation of the sentence of Rolando Gonzalez, his brother Edison, and Eduardo Arcilla at a meeting with the Sultan at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on interfaith dialogue in New York.
The three were sentenced to death by beheading for allegedly killing three other Filipinos.
In a statement, Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International said, “Asking for a commutation is tantamount to admitting that they are guilty of the crime. But the Gonzales brothers and Arcilla vehemently insist on their innocence.”
Martinez related, “Edison Gonzales, one of the three OFWs in death row in Saudi Arabia, has repeatedly told us through phone conversations that they were tortured relentlessly by Saudi authorities. For seven consecutive days, they were hogtied and blindfolded and were relentlessly beaten up during interrogations. Up to now, they insist that they did not kill fellow Filipinos Romeo Lumbang, Jeremias Bucud and Dante Rivero.
“President Arroyo has shown her ignorance of the case and her insensitivity to the victims’ demands. She should have at least appealed for a review of the case so that the innocence of these OFWs would be upheld considering the reports that they were tortured and forced into admitting to the crime,” Martinez added.
Martinez explained that the President’s visit could have been an opportune time to officially express the Philippine government’s concern regarding reports of torture being committed against OFWs charged with crimes.
Martinez said it was not the first time that the group received complaints of torture from OFWs. He recalled the case of Joselito Alejo who was also sentenced to die by beheading in 2001. He was later found innocent after his case was reinvestigated due to the public outcry in the Philippines, said Martinez.
Migrante also hit the government’s piecemeal approach to the problem of OFWs in death row. Martinez said the Philippine government should formally take up the case of 11 OFWs to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
According to the group, six OFWs have already been executed in Saudi Arabia since 2001. They were Antonio Alvesa, Sergio Aldana, Miguel Fernandez, Wilfredo Bautista, Reynaldo Cortez and Jenifer Beduya.