DFA eyes pact with international law firms to better assist OFWs with legal troubles

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THE Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is seeking to increase retainer agreements with law offices in other countries to help aid Filipinos who are in legal trouble, especially those on death row.

“The DFA is studying to have more retainer agreements in law offices sa specific areas across the world na makakatulong sa ating OFWs (in specific areas across the world to help our OFWs),” said DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday, June 16.

This is in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to work double time in assisting Filipinos who are facing death sentences.

“Yung double time at 100 percent effort gusto niya. (The president wants double time and 100 effort),” said Cayetano. “Preemptive o proactive, sa umpisa pa lang (from the start).”

There are currently 85 Filipinos on death row in other countries, 25 of whom are in Saudi Arabia.

Last week, a Malaysian court sentenced nine Filipinos to death over the Sabah standoff that killed at least 70 people.

In January, OFW Jakatia Pawa was executed by hanging in Kuwait for killing her employer’s daughter. The DFA and the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait only learned about her case the day before her impending execution on Jan. 24.

To avoid future executions of Filipinos abroad, a Quezon City representative has called for the need to draft a comprehensive legal assistance program. Rep. Winnie Castelo has requested for the DFA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide a complete inventory of the OFWs facing jail term and their corresponding court cases in their host country.

“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,” Castelo said, according to various reports.

With the list of OFWs facing jail terms and their corresponding court cases in their host countries, Castelo said this would enable the House of Representatives to draft a comprehensive legal assistance program to prevent future executions.

The DFA is now reviewing all the death sentences and has instructed the Office of Public Diplomacy to go through the details of the case and prepare to file an appeal, according to Cayetano. (With reports from Jennifer Soriano/AJPress)



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