Bishop to gov’t: Help other jailed OFWs

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MANILA, Feb. 24, 2016— Following the return to the Philippines of a Filipino worker who spent 20 years in jail in Kuwait, a Catholic bishop asked the government to help other Filipinos languishing in foreign prisons.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said there are many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) “who are suffering” in jails, some of whom are on death rows.

“Our government officials should and help assist them now and always,” said Santos, head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.a

“We should not prolong their pain and agony. Now is the time to act to free them and bring them home alive,” he said.

The prelate made the statement after Joseph Urbiztondo, an OFW who was sentenced to 25 years in jail for the murder of Bangladeshi national, Azizur Rahman, arrived back in the Philippines on Tuesday.

Urbiztondo, however, maintained he had nothing to do with the crime.

The OFW was released from prison on Jan. 24 after paying $26,000 worth of blood money to the heirs of Rahman.

“We should learn from his situation,” Santos said. “We sympathize with what happened to Joseph Urbiztondo. He suffered so much. We are thankful to God he is freed, alive and now with his loved ones.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs said there are about 3,800 migrant Filipinos jailed in other countries, around 90 of them are on death row. (Roy Lagarde / CBCPNews) 

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