DISTURBING and saddening are reports that at least 3,827 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are languishing
in jails in 52 countries and territories across the world, with 130 awaiting execution.
But citing a Department of Foreign Affairs’ report, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said
the figure could go up to 4,452 if 625 OFWs reported to be under investigation will be treated as jailed.
For a manpower-exporting country, like the Philippines, the incarceration of thousands of its
migrant workers, including women, is, without doubt, a cause for concern among government authorities.
It is public knowledge that the billions of dollar remittances of our OFWs, tagged as among the
country’s modern-day heroes, continue to help prop up the still struggling Philippine economy.
Of the 130 death convicts, 48 and 43 are in Malaysia and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA),
Recto noted that there was a “marked decrease” in the number of Filipinos sentenced to death in
China, adding that this could be a result of the thaw in Philippine-China relations.
As to reason for incarceration, illegal drugs topped the list, followed by immigration offenses,
robbery or theft, murder, homicide, attempted manslaughter and embezzlement.
Violation of host country’s morals and religious laws also sent many of our migrant workers to
jail. Other offenses included homosexuality, immorality, physical injury, assault and rape.
The increasing number of Filipinos languishing in foreign jails is a reminder that the Philippine
government needs to review its employment program, notably its decades-old overseas employment program.
Baka panahon na para huwag na tayong umaasa sa ibang bansa, kagaya ng Estados Unidos at Saudi
Arabia, para lang magkaroon ng magandang trabaho ang ating mga kababayan.