MALAYSIA SUSPENDS EXECUTION OF PINOY WORKER  

Manila, March 13, 2003 -- The execution of a Filipino worker in Malaysia set for Friday was suspended after acting Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi ordered a reevaluation of his case on the request of the Philippine government, Senator Noli de Castro said Thursday.

De Castro's help was sought by the family of Andy Baguindah, a carpenter, who was convicted of drug trafficking and illegal possession of firearms - crimes punishable by death in Malaysia.

De Castro said Badawi gave the order after Ambassador Roberto Romulo, who was in Malaysia, relayed the government's request.

Badawi assured Romulo that Baguindah would be given due process but stressed that the laws in Malaysia were harsh, said De Castro whose office was kept informed on the developments of the case.

In a radio report on Thursday, Baguindah was said to have denied involvement in the crimes, which he was accused of in 1995 when he was picked up by Malaysian police during a crackdown on drug pushers and users.

He claimed he was forced by Malaysian police to admit to the offenses that resulted in his conviction.

On learning of Baguindah's plight, De Castro approached Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople, who promptly acted on the matter by getting in touch with Romulo, first sent to Malaysia by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the government's peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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