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Filipino beheaded for murder in Saudi Arabia

MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino worker was beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after his death sentence was affirmed by the kingdom’s Supreme Court, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. Undersecretary Esteban Conejos, head of the DFA’s office of migrant workers affairs, said Jenifer Bidoya, a.k.a. Venancio Ladion, was executed at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the western city of Jeddah (3 p.m. in Manila). In a press statement, Conejos said Bidoya was sentenced to death by the Jeddah Grand Court in April 2007 for killing a Saudi national. No details of the murder were available. An Associated Press report said the murder happened in the holy city of Makkah (Mecca), with the accused suffocating the victim and piercing his neck with a pen. The death sentence was upheld by the Tameez Court (appellate court) and later by the Supreme Judicial Council on April 21, 2008 despite appeals by the Philippine government before the emir of Makkah, the governor of Jeddah, and the Minister of Interior. Conejos said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wrote two letters to King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al-Saud on December 6, 2007 and on July 7, 2008 requesting clemency for Bidoya. But the victim's family was adamant in refusing to forgive Bidoya and insisted on the imposition of death penalty, Conejos said. “Under Shariah Law, the crime of murder results in a public and private liability. While the King of Saudi Arabia can forgive the public rights aspect of the case, he cannot extend clemency if the victim’s family insists on their right of quisas as they did on this case," Conejos said in a statement. The last time a Filipino was executed in the oil-rich kingdom was in June 2007, when Reynaldo Cortez, 41, was beheaded in Riyadh for murdering a Pakistani taxi driver who allegedly tried to sexually assault him. Several other Filipinos are on death row in various parts of Saudi Arabia, including three men from Pampanga province who were meted death last year for allegedly killing three fellow Filipinos in what has become known as the infamous “chop-chop killings of Jeddah." The convictions are under appeal. Conejos said the DFA has informed the family of Bidoya and is coordinating with Department of Labor and Employment to extend financial assistance to his family. Several active death penalty cases involving Filipinos are also currently pending in courts in five other countries, the DFA said. These involve various offenses such as rape, drug smuggling and homicide in China , Malaysia, Brunei and the United States. Conejos said there were a total of 56 death penalty cases, but the government was able to ask commutation of 23 sentences from death to life imprisonment, the latest of which involved two maids charged with murder in Kuwait. - GMANews.TV