What, a man raping another man?
This is something folks back home will be surprised to hear. Yes it’s weird, but it’s true; some men do rape other men in some parts of the world.
Dito sa Saudi Arabia, kapag wala kang bigote ang tingin sa iyo ng mga Arabo ay para kang isang babae. Ngayon kung medyo mistisohin ka pa, maganda ang katawan, matambok ang puwit, at laging bagong paligo at mabango, asahan mong pagtritripan ka nila dahil sa kanilang paningin isa kang sexy star (ala Coca Nicolas or Claudia Zobel).
Si Ed ay cashier noong araw sa Al Kharj branch ng aming company. Tuwing umaga trabaho niya ang ideposito ang collections of the previous day sa down town. Dahil may kalayuan din ang aming office sa downtown kung saan naroroon ang mga banko, kinakailangan niyang bumiyahe sakay ng taxi. Isang umaga, Yemeni ang driver ng nasakyan niyang taxi pabalik sa opisina. Dahil seguro guwapo at malinis sa katawan si Ed, pinagtripan daw siya ng driver. Hindi naman siya ginalaw. Inilabas lang naman nong driver ang ari niya at nilarolaro habang nagdradrive. Takot na takot si Ed ng dumating sa opisina. Sabi namin na pasalamat siya at hindi siya dinala sa disyerto. May mga storya kasi na sa disyerto daw kadalasan dinadala ng mga rapist ang kanilang biktima. At doon na nila iiwan pagkatapos abusuhin. Mula noon hindi na bumibiyahe si Ed ng mag-isa.
Reynaldo Cortez, a welder in one of the car care shops at Sinaya in Riyadh, was not as lucky. When a Pakistani driver tried to molest him sometime in 2003, he fought back, and in the process of defending himself stabbed to death his would be rapist.
For the offense, he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. On appeal, the sentence was reduced to 10 years in October 2004. However in 2005, the High Court in Riyadh that gave the final verdict sentenced him to death. After that, the only way Cortez could be saved was through the grant of forgiveness from the family of his victim.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said they did their best to save Cortez. They said they negotiated with the family of the Pakistani driver and offered SR 100,000 blood money so that Cortez may be forgiven. They said they even hired the services of a Pakistani professional negotiator. But all those effort failed. All that the family of the victim wanted was to see the execution go through.
Last Wednesday, as we continue to celebrate our Independence Day as well as the Migrants’ Month, we were greeted with the sad news that the death sentence of Reynaldo Cortez was finally executed. In minutes, the world joined the Filipinos in the Kingdom in mourning. Another comrade has fallen.
Back in the Philippines, the sadness among the bereaved family and relatives of Cortez was aggravated by the news that the fallen hero’s body cannot be brought home, because it has to be buried before sunset on the day of the execution. The immediate burial was in accordance with traditions of Islam, which Cortez embraced during his stay in the Kingdom.
For not being able to bring Cortez’ body home, the Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia said in a phone patch interview that, “we can only sympathize with the family of Cortez.”
Had the family of the Pakistani driver accepted the SR 100,000 blood money offered by the DFA, Cortez would still be alive and free today. He would have flown back home to be with his family, and never to leave them anymore.
But the offer was rejected, and Cortez had to die. Instead of just paying the usual lip service and saying, “we sympathize with the family,” I think it will be more appropriate and better appreciated if DFA gives the SR 100,000, which was rejected by the family of the Pakistani driver, to the wife and six children that Reynaldo Cortez, our fallen hero, left behind.
I call on the various Overseas Filipino organizations in the Kingdom, and around the world, to officially ask the President to approve the release of funds required. After all, the amount is just a small fraction of what was spent for Dematera.
I think there is also a need to revisit the provisions of sections 24 to 26 of R.A. 8042, with the objective of assessing the effectiveness so far of the Legal Assistant for Migrants Workers Affairs’ Office as well as the status of the Legal Assistance Fund.
There is also a need to set up a Fund for blood money, so that the Post and the community need not beg around whenever the need arises. A certain percentage of the government’s savings from debt servicing, brought about by our dollar remittances, should be allocated for this purpose.
Reynaldo Cortez will not be the last to need help. In Saudi Arabia alone there are already three waiting in the death row. The time for government to act is now. ###