President Rodrigo Duterte might appeal to Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Al Thani for the pardon and release of three Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are serving prison sentence in Qatar.
“We are hopeful that during the visit of the President, we will also request the pardon,” Alan Timbayan, the Philippines' ambassador to Doha, told reporters on Saturday.
"We have informed the President through the Department of Foreign Affairs about their cases. I do believe in all sincerity that in the interest of Filipino workers who are in prison, the President will ask," he added.
The OFWs, who have been in jail for the past seven years, were convicted of espionage and economic sabotage. They were identified as Chua Tan, and a certain "Ulep" and "Almarez."
They were originally sentenced to death, but had their sentences reduced to imprisonment following an appeal from the Aquino administration.
Chua's sentence was downgraded to life imprisonment, while those of the other two were lowered to a 15-year imprisonment.
The three were accused of "taking pictures" of military installations in Qatar and passing on Qatar's military and economic secrets to the Philippine government.
"There were some documents found in their possession. They were 11 of them but the eight were released immediately," Timbayan said.
Manila has already denied spying on Qatar.
Chua Tan was an employee of a Qatari state-owned company and whose sentence was lowered to life imprisonment.
Ulep and Almarez, on the other hand, were technicians in the Qatari Air Force and their sentence was lowered to 15 years of imprisonment.
The three were detained in 2010. — Anna Felicia Bajo/MDM, GMA News