Fifth Filipino Executed in Kingdom Since 2001
Posted by Admin on June 26, 2007
RIYADH— A 41-year-old former welder who worked at an auto shop in Riyadh on June 13, 2007 became the fifth Pinoy executed since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took office in 2001. She had pledged to increase efforts to prevent the execution of Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFWs) who end up on death row abroad.
Also executed yesterday in Jizan was Yemeni Yassin ibn Saleh Abdu Ahmed. He was found guilty of killing a Saudi with a pickax during an attempted robbery.
An Interior Ministry statement posted by the Saudi Press Agency said Reynaldo Cortez was beheaded yesterday morning at an undisclosed location in Riyadh. He was found guilty of the 2002 murder of a Pakistani driver. Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor told Arab News the execution took place between 8:30 and 9 a.m. The Philippine Daily Inquirer said that Cortez leaves behind a wife and six children in Guagua, Pampanga.
The family of the murder victim had declined a SR100,000 blood money deal that had been offered with the help of the Philippine missions in the Kingdom and in Pakistan where the family lives. Cortez claimed he was defending himself from sexual assault when he stabbed the driver to death. Villamor said he phoned the office of the governor of Riyadh in an attempt to request a stay of execution. He said a protocol officer referred him to the execution team but the ambassador said by the time he got in contact with them the prisoner had already been beheaded.
A Filipino national who regularly visited Cortez in Section 2 of the Malaz penitentiary for the past five years told Arab News on condition of anonymity that he last talked with the Saudi death row inmate Tuesday night.
The Filipino man said that Cortez asked him to collect money from a former inmate for laundry and tea-serving services he had provided as a side job in prison.
The source said that Cortez didn’t seem to be aware that his execution would take place the following day, but that in many previous conversations Cortez seemed to be prepared for the worst.
According to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs there are 33 OFWs on death row outside of the Philippines, including two women. All five OFWs who have been executed since 2001 were beheaded in Saudi Arabia. The other four men were executed in March 2005, according to Consul Victor Israel Jr. of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.
According to Migrante, a Philippines-based migrant workers’ advocacy group, there are currently three OFWs on Saudi death row.
Among the OFWs on death row in the Kingdom is a man who stabbed to death his Filipino girlfriend in the northern city of Tabuk. Another man faces the sword after being found guilty of killing a Saudi man in Riyadh during a drinking binge.
President Arroyo has been cited for her push to get OFWs off the world’s death row rows. When Arroyo came to the Kingdom for a state visit in May 2006, she also personally appealed to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for the release of about 100 Filipinos languishing in local jails for minor crimes. The Saudi ruler not only granted the request but also ordered the release of more than 200 others.
The latest Filipino death row convict in Saudi Arabia to be freed was Sarah Dematera, a maid who was sentenced to death for the 1992 slaying of her female employer in the Eastern Province. Dematera was forgiven by the victim’s family, which accepted a SR2 million blood-money deal.
Meanwhile, Ricky Cibanico, another Filipino who killed a fellow Filipino in an industrial accident, has been scheduled to be released soon as the family of the victim in the Philippines has already received SR75,000 as blood money. Cibanico had accidentally switched on a grinder machine, believed to be malfunctioning at the time of the accident sometime in 2004, without knowing that a fellow worker was inside the machine apparently checking for mechanical breakdown.
The beheadings of the Filipino and the Yemeni yesterday in Saudi Arabia bring to 94 the number of executions announced by the Interior Ministry this year.
In 2006 at least 37 people were executed, while 83 were put to death in 2005 and 35 the year before, according to Agence France-Presse tallies based on official statements.