MANILA, July 20 -- A former Philippine policeman burned a Singaporean flag Thursday to protest abuses of Filipinos working abroad, and said he plans to burn the flags of five other countries as well. Fomer police officer Abner Afuang, whose exploits against criminals inspired a local movie based on his life, burned the Singaporean flag in front of Manila's main sports stadium before a crowd of onlookers and journalists. Afuang said he intends to burn the flags of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, India and Japan on July 30 to protest alleged abuses of Filipinos there. The former police officer-turned-activist said he was also protesting the results of an autopsy conducted by American patholigists on a Filipino maid killed in Singapore. The autopsy on Delia Maga upheld Singapore's original autopsy report that she died solely of strangulation. Another Philippine maid, Flor Contemplacion, was hanged in Singapore's Changi prison after she confessed to killing Maga and a four-year-old Singaporean boy. Many in the Philippines believed Contemplacion was innocent and they were outraged with Singapore, which refused to give in to a request from President Fidel Ramos to defer the execution. The outrage worsened when Philippine forensics experts said their autopsy on Maga showed she was tortured before being strangled. Ramos has said the Philippines accepts the findings of the American patholigists, adding the country plans to normalize ties with Singapore. Afuang said he still believes Contemplacion was framed for a crime she did not commit.
Maga's death and Contemplacion's hanging have brought to the forefront the plight of roughly 4.5 million Filipinos working abroad, moving the government to step up its efforts in protecting and monitoring its foreign-based workers. A commission formed by Ramos specifically to look at the condition of overseas contract workers has officially recommended to the government stop the deployment of women migrant workers to six Middle East countries -- Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Quatar -- as well as Japan, Greece and Cypruss. Just last month, a 16-year old Filipina maid was sentenced was jailed for seven years in the UAE for killing her employer who raped her. In 1994, more than 5,000 Filipinos were repatriated from Gulf countries becasue of complaints such as non-payment of salaries an physical and sexual abuse.