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Christmas wish of a mom on death row
« on: December 19, 2008, 11:04:58 PM »
MANILA, Philippines—What does a mother who is on death row in a foreign land wish for this Christmas?

Still thinking of her four children, Cecil Armia-Alcaraz, the English language tutor convicted in October of robbing and killing her Taiwanese job broker, wants assistance for her kids' education and the release of her diary to her family.

Alcaraz expressed her wishes during a recent visit by Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Carmelita Dimzon, Labor Attaché Liddy Rasul-Tanedo, and Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center to the Yan Chao Detention Center in Kaoshiung, Taiwan.

Dimzon agreed to grant the first wish: her children -- Shallom, 20, Jerome, 18, Aaron, 16, and Ephraim, 14 -- will be given scholarships. On top of that, she wants to help Alcaraz's brother, who acts as the boys' guardian.

"We want to give full assistance to her family. I already sent OWWA officer to go to Liliw, Laguna to ask them to come over the OWWA offices in Pasay City for profiling to see what they really need. They might not be inclined to go into business, and if we give them a livelihood project that requires entrepreneurial skills, we might have a problem," she said.

"We want to give a comprehensive assistance so that the children's daily needs are also assured," she added.

Ople said the Ople Center would also offer Alcaraz's children the opportunity to enroll in the Microsoft-sponsored Tulay program which provides free computer classes to overseas Filipino workers and their families. The program is in partnership with OWWA and through a grant given to the foundation named after the late Foreign Affairs Secretary
Blas F. Ople.

Quoting Alcaraz, Ople said the single mother has been keeping a diary since she came to Taiwan and wants to share its contents with her family to fill the gap of 10 years that they had spent apart.

"Gusto ko po sanang maibigay ito sa mga anak ko, kapatid ko, at kung maaari pati na sa buong mundo (I would like to give this diary to my children, my brother, and to the whole world)," Alcaraz told Ople, Dimzon, and Tanedo.

Ople said Alcaraz would also like the world to know that she led a happy life in Taiwan with her American boyfriend before the tragedy. She called the slain job broker her best friend.

Alcaraz, who faces death by firing squad if her appeal is rejected, said she hopes that the media would also cover her appeal.

She said her diary will have to be translated to Chinese first before the authorities allow its release.

Alcaraz, who initially confessed to the crime, later retracted and denied committing the crime. She said she only withdrew money from the victim's ATM on the instructions of two Chinese men who threatened to drag her boyfriend into the case.

However, the police have yet to uncover any leads linking two Chinese men to the crime.

Her boyfriend later reportedly committed suicide on his return to the United States.

Both Alcaraz and her American boyfriend were the victim's clients. The broker helped both secure jobs as English tutors in Taiwan, where Alcaraz also previously worked as caregiver.

The court that sentenced Alcaraz cited a security video that captured the dumping of the body near the city harbor and another video showing Alcaraz withdrawing money using the slain broker's ATM card hours after the victim already died.(


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