So now we have a rare incident of an OFW about to be executed by firing squad in Taiwan. Taiwan OFWs said they are convinced that Alcaraz was a victim of ‘frame-up’. But because Philippine representation (MECO?) actually represent Taiwanese interests and not those of the Filipinos, we now have an OFW up for firing squad.

Alcaraz might have been convicted, not so much of overwhelming evidence, but more on the apathy of concerned government agencies and officials.

We can expect that Mr. DFA — Usec Este-BAN Conejos — will soon order a deployment ban to Taiwan.


By Niña Catherine Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: November 03, 2008

LILIW, LAGUNA—The bungalow is almost bare. The walls bear none of the usual family photos. There are no appliances that typically cram a home of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

The electricity bills are unpaid and the house has had no power supply for two years. Clothes are strewn about.

It’s all because the head of the household hasn’t been around for three years. She is in jail in Taiwan, facing possible death by firing squad.

Two months ago, Cecilla Alcaraz was convicted of robbing and killing a Taiwanese female friend on the night of Sept. 12, 2007.

The 47-year-old Alcaraz, a high school graduate, first worked as a domestic helper in Taiwan for 10 years before she met the Taiwanese woman who later helped her find better employment as a private tutor.

She last saw her children in the Philippines in 2005. To be able to reenter Taiwan despite an expired working visa, she managed to change her name on her passport to “Nemencia Armia.”

Her last phone call to her boys was in August 2007, one month before the crime.

Nothing had been heard of Alcaraz until March, when her family finally learned that she had been arrested and was undergoing trial. The shocking news came not via official channels but through a Taiwan-based NGO.

News reports said Alcaraz had confessed that she had a fight with her Taiwanese friend when Alcaraz failed to pay her debts. During the squabble, the victim pushed her, prompting Alcaraz to stab her with a kitchen knife. She later took the victim’s ATM card to buy a garbage bag to put in the body.

Alcaraz later retracted her confession, saying instead that two Taiwanese killed the woman and framed her up by forcing her to withdraw money from the ATM and dump the body somewhere in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

But pieces of evidence—a security camera video that caught her while she was making a withdrawal from the ATM, fingerprints, and DNA materials taken from the crime scene—established the case against her.


Alcaraz’s four children—Shallom, 20, Jerome, 18, Aaron, 16, and Ephraim, 14—appeared sullen and shy during an interview at her sister Rosalinda Pisueña’s house at Barangay Ilayang Palina in Liliw, Laguna, on Saturday afternoon. They gave curt answers to questions about their present state.

But the oldest child, Shallom, was sure that the accusations against his mother were only made up. He even showed the Philippine Daily Inquirer the latest birthday card that his mother sent him on May 12.

In her letter, Alcaraz said in Filipino: “Don’t mind me too much. I’ll go back home soon and I will be with you. I love the four of you. You have nothing to be embarrassed because I did not commit the crime they have leveled against me. It’s hard to explain but I hope you understand.”

Though they have never talked even over the phone since she was imprisoned, Pisueña said she knew her sister was suffering too much.

She saw in a photo taken during the hearing how thin and weak Alcaraz had become.

“How could she kill the person who helped her in Taiwan?” she added.

According to Pisueña and Alcaraz’s sons, it was impossible for Alcaraz to have committed the murder because of her small built.

And Pisueña recalled Alcaraz as patient and understanding when dealing with people.

Single mom

Shallom was 8 years old when his father Felipe left them without a word.

As a single mother, Alcaraz was enterprising and spirited. There was a time she sold cooked meal and merienda (snacks) on sidewalks. She also ventured into buy-and-sell and became a midwife in the village afterward.

Thus, when she saw an opportunity in Taiwan, she grabbed it right away, believing that she would be getting more than what she was earning here.

Now, since his mother could no longer send money, Shallom has stopped going to school. He and his siblings are only surviving on what he gets as a tricycle driver.


Pisueña feels they are now racing against time.

Right after she learned about the death sentence, Pisueña tried to ask for help at the offices of Senate President Manuel Villar and Vice President Noli de Castro. But, in Villar’s office, she was only asked to fill out a form and come back after two weeks while in De Castro’s, she was merely told that the office would just call her.

“Time is running out,” Pisueña said, grumbling about government inefficiencies in handling OFW cases. She added that the family’s fear deepened after an OFW’s recent beheading in Saudi Arabia.

According to Pisueña, she had not received any letter from the government on Alcaraz’s case. The news about her came from an NGO.

Two lawyers helping Alcaraz were not even sent by the government but came from the Legal Aid Foundation, a group of lawyers in Taiwan.

Also, Migrante International and the Manila Economic and Cultural Office are providing legal and financial assistance to the family.

Migrante said that 29 OFWs were in jail all over the world facing death sentences.

On Oct. 24, the Taiwan court allowed ample time for the review of Alcaraz’s case, according to Migrante. The court also allotted around 10 days for the translation of the court proceedings to English and Filipino.

In the meantime, Alcaraz’s children anxiously pray, and wait.