GMA saves neck of condemned OFW in Kuwait

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Ranario snatched from hangman’s noose; death sentence commuted to life

FILIPINO overseas worker Marilou Ranario was snatched from certain death after Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday commuted her sentence to life imprisonment, granting the personal appeal of President Macapagal-Arroyo.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the emir also raised hopes for Ranario’s life sentence being shortened. According to Bunye, the Kuwait leader promised to reduce the sentence further should all the family members of the late Najat Mahmoud Faraj Mobarak agree to forgive Ranario.

It was earlier reported all but the five immediate relatives of Ranario’s victim had accepted “blood money” as compensation for his death.

Mrs. Arroyo was initially told by the emir he does not interfere with his country’s judicial process but her appeal moved him to use his power of commutation to save Ranario from being hanged for the crime of killing her employer.

“Normally, I don’t interfere in the judicial process. We have a separate judicial system. But since you are here to personally appeal for her, I will not sign the decree of execution. That is within my power. I will reduce the penalty to life and when the other parties sign the forgiveness, I will further reduce the penalty,” Bunye said quoting the Emir.

The President thanked the emir for his compassion. She later joined him at a luncheon banquet hosted by the emir.

Besides Bunye, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Ricardo Endaya, Senator Edgardo Angara and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. accompanied the President in Kuwait.

Every Filipino contract worker is important.

Mrs. Arroyo thus explained her side trip to Kuwait to meet with the emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in a last-ditch effort to save domestic helper Marilou Ranario who was sentenced by a Kuwaiti court to die by hanging,

“Unless granted clemency, Ranario faces certain death for having killed her employer in what her lawyers claimed was an act of self-defense. The life of every overseas Filipino is important,” Bunye quoted the President as saying before her meeting with the Emir of Kuwait.

The President was in Kuwait only for a six-hour stopover on her way back to the Philippines. She is expected to return to the country today.

The Kuwait supreme court otherwise known as the Court of Cassation affirmed the conviction and death verdict of Ranario last November 27.

Bunye said concerned government agencies extended assistance to Ranario at every stage of her case. He said there were also other high-level interventions, citing Vice President Noli de Castro’s personal delivery of a letter of the President to the emir in March 2006 and Foreign Secretary Romulo’s meeting with the emir in May of the same year.