Lessons from three executions

It’s easy to apprehend the outburst of public sympathy for the three death convicts executed yesterday in China: Ramon Credo, 42; Sally Villanueva, 32; and Elizabeth Batain, 38. They were, like many of us, our relatives and our friends, overseas Filipino workers, forced by poverty to venture into foreign lands to support their families in the Philippines. Like the rest of the Filipino diaspora, they have been making both ends meet and enduring the loneliness of working in foreign lands, including in China with the formidable language barrier, to feed and support their loved ones in the country. And while lack of knowledge is not a defense generally for possession of large quantities of prohibited drugs anywhere, we cannot help but feel sympathy for those who were unwittingly used as drug mules just to earn the extra buck because modern day slave wages are simply not enough.
But while their deaths should indeed be a reason for national mourning, the fact remains that unless we learn from this latest painful experience, it will happen over and over again given the sheer number of our countrymen working as cheap laborers in foreign lands. What are these lessons?

First, while the Marcos policy to aggressively pursue the export of manpower as a tool of economic development has proven to be hugely successful, at least in terms of increasing our gross national product; the time has come for the nation to reevaluate the wisdom of this policy. The export of labor as an economic strategy was formulated at a time when the country’s economy was in shambles owing to the lack of business confidence under conditions of martial law. I submit that this is no longer the case. With a population of almost a hundred million, ours is now a market that can be self-sufficient, albeit the export market, specially the Asean common market, is still an attractive destination for our goods and services. The time, in other words, has come to provide jobs domestically so that Filipinos no longer have to endure slave like conditions in foreign lands. Of course, there are some of us who have been luckier and have been working as professionals and skilled workers enjoying very high living standards in developed economies. These individuals should stay where they are. What I am advocating is for Filipinos earning measly salaries even by Philippine standards; the domestic helpers in particular, should now be provided jobs in this country. If Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia have attracted more foreign investors compared to us, the time has come to ask ourselves why foreign investors are averse to investing in the Philippines. Here, the lack of predictability arising from a weak rule of law, lack of consistency in economic policies, and the illegal taking of alien property rights as in the case of NAIA Terminal 3, are some of the major reasons behind this aversion.

Two, the country should pursue the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights as the cornerstone of our foreign policy. Ultimately, these rights will provide the much-needed protection for our countrymen wherever they may be. Not too long ago, the Aquino administration decided to snub the Nobel awards rites honoring a Chinese activist purportedly because we wanted to please China in an effort to spare the three from the lethal injection. Yesterday proved that the decision to snub the Nobel was a fatal mistake. Not only did we abdicate our traditional role as a leading advocate for the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights, such as the freedom of expression; but as yesterday proved, also for naught.

Ultimately, what is at issue with these executions is not just Philippine-Chinese relations, but also the legality of the death penalty itself as being inconsistent with the right to life. What is so abhorrent with this latest experience is the fact that while there exists the possibility of mistake committed by Chinese courts, the imposition of the death penalty, on the other hand, is irrevocable. Furthermore, the views expressed by the Human Rights Committee on the right to life is that this right is absolute and that countries that are still imposing the death penalty should take steps to abolish the same.

Domestically, it is hence important for our legislators to resist the temptation to re-impose the death penalty. Here the arguments against it are just too many: the lack of empirical evidence to show that it has a deterrent effect and the fact that courts are more often than not, incompetent in their appreciation of law and evidence. While the Philippines under the past dispensation has signed the second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which would mandate us never to re-impose the death penalty, this may not have been concurred in yet by the Senate. Hopefully, the tragedy that befell our countrymen in China will hasten this process of Senate concurrence.

Three, there is an imperative need to undertake major revamp of personnel and systems in our airports and in the Bureau of Immigration, as well as the Bureau of Customs. How kilos and kilos of heroine could pass through our airports is just deplorable. Better jail these mules in the Philippines for a lifetime rather than witness many more of them put to death in foreign countries for drug trafficking.

Finally, perhaps the time has come to create the post of legal aid officer in all of our diplomatic and consular missions abroad. While these lawyers cannot practice law in foreign jurisdictions, these lawyers could at least study what the local laws. Moreover, they could liaison with foreign lawyers and hence, provide better consular assistance to many of our migrant workers who have kept our economy afloat all these years. Surely, these workers have already earned the right to have this additional service even if it means granting the Department of Foreign Affairs additional budget for this purpose.


11 comments on “Lessons from three executions

  1. Dennis Blancaflor says:

    I definitely agree with what you said that our government should provide domestic jobs so that Filipinos no longer have to endure slave like conditions in foreign lands. In lieu of this, I think that the government should find ways to attract the best and the brightest in the country to stay and serve the Filipino people. As what the unofficial UP Naming Mahal states in its lyrics:

    “Malayong lupain,
    Di kailangang marating
    Dito maglilingkod sa Bayan natin
    Dito maglilingkod sa Bayan natin”

  2. Renato Pacifico says:

    What is so funny with all the intelligence of english-speaking peryodistas and columnistas not one ASKING SINGSON WHERE HE GOT HIS DRUGS AND WHO HIS SUPPLIERS ARE. YOU GET SINGSON’S SUPPLIERS YOU CATCH THE SUPPLIERS who sent these 3 poor Filipinos to their death in China.

    NOT ONE IS ASKING SINGSON. THEY ARE ONLY CONCERNED OF HAVING SINGSON SPRUNG. Like Lacson, Singson will be welcomed by his co-senators and co-congressmen with confetti of yellow ribbons! WoW!

  3. Renato Pacifico says:

    There is not one invistigation who sent these 3 Filipinos to their death in China. NOT ONE! In editorials they talk about laws, lessons learned, how to avoid mistake the next time and all the blah blah blahs.

    Why aren’t they invistigating? Why aren’t they asking Singson where he got the drugs? Will Singson go to prison after his sentence in Hong-Kong? Manhid na ba ang mga Filipinos?

    Filipinos cannot even arrest a wang-wanger. Not one was arrested. Who dares?

  4. ricky a. pollo says:

    yeah right. But isn’t as simple as it may seem sir Roque. Foremost in this problem is the failure of government agencies to do its mandated task. First, the execution did not happen as if it occurred only this year. The records bear out that there are 72 other people in the prison cells of China. Meaning, this has been on going on or at least the syndicated trade of drug mules in the last five years. The NBI should have track down by now such problem. The government information agency should have alerted by way of educating the public of such a malaise in the society via infomercials or what have you. Secondly, tough efforts should have been exerted really to after these syndicate and pursuing them as a matter of national policy. While commiserate with the victims none has been heard from the government agencies. Simply, being pro active on this issue will help. Third, on the diplomatic side of things, the DFA insatead of acting like snubbish morons, should really do its job by pointing a more comprehensive attack assessments on the safety of OFWs, including those that are merely recruited as mules, which has become a point for debates. DFA should shed its diplomat mentality as starting to serve its people.It must remember that they are public servants first and foremost.But we see snobbish Malaya and the other U sec ululating on matters related to the execution as if they have done their darn est best. If only these people starts realizing that their are bound by their oath of office to serve the public. Just like the GSIS who doesn’t seem to understand their public services functions and acts as if the money of small time public employees applying for their salary, are theirs. The president is as confused. He should come out on television and detail a plan to arrest this problem which is a social malaise. By way of announcing that a multi tasking agency of police efforts is created to apprehend all these syndicate. Tap NGOs to monitor this incidents abroad. And create a special body to give representation to every citizen going abroad by starting with the basics of understanding each foreign countries policies on legal representation. This should be under the DOJ, PAO, with DFA as other members. Sort of PAO for international legal services. Persida Rueda should stop appearing on television ala face to face and concetrate on her work. There are well meaning people wiling to help. Even you Sir Roque should lead an adhoc agency with Colmenares of congress to oversee this undertaking. Surely, the presidency is difficult, its not about dating women and giving speeches left and right. Noynoy sad to say is not prepared. This early we re-organize the bureacuracy including the OMBUDSAN and the Judiciary, which are useless pieces of crapts. tenks censya tao lang.emotional for the stupidity of our leaders.

    • Renato Pacifico says:

      The idiot peryodistas has to protect benign0. It is the idiot media that elected benign0 not the people. Yes, the people elected benign0 because they were misinformed by idiot media that practice self-censorship!! HAAAAY NAKU !!!!

  5. Renato Pacifico says:

    This I do not know, were the children of the executed allowed to see their parents before they were killed? I do not know! I seldom read idiot Philippine peryodiko. I know about what is happening here through blogs, forums and tsismis. Why I do not read idiot Philippine peryodiko? Because I do not want to be part of being misinformed. So, the children were not sent to China. Yet the benign0-lovers were OK to spend money to beg for mercy for Singson. I do not get it at all. I JUST DO NOT GET IT.
    That is why I do not care so much about Philippines and Filipinos and its laws. I do not even get intimidated by folks who can quote Philippines law like bible versus. Like bible verses, Philippine laws are just cindirella photocopied laws from America. Philippine laws like bible, it is often not true. It is true if it is applied but definitely not true because it is simply not happening in the real world of the Philippines.

    • Renato Pacifico says:

      The best part of Philippines and its laws and its bureaucrats is IT IS ENTERTAINING. NOT REALLY EDUCATING. It keeps away the boredom. Sometimes its boring if discussed among intelligent people, in the real sense of the word. But when it is discussed with so-so intelligent people just because they know how to speak english becomes entertaining.

  6. Renato Pacifico says:

    Who was it who said Fiipino OFWs are heroes? Why are 3 dead Filipinos coffin were not covered with Philippine Flag? Will there be 21-gun salyut? See! Filipinos are only good in blah-blah-blahs. Will there be trust funds for their children to send them to decent schools? Filipinos just cannot be trusted. HESUS MARIA JOSEF!!!

    THE artificial unnatural strength of peso is making the OFWs bringing less and less money on top of stiff competition of human resources abroad that is why Filipino OFWs are dealing in drugs to supplement their loss of income.


  7. Renato Pacifico says:


    Binay got top ratings in popularity contest. Binay thanked benign0. benign0 commented on his low rating “because good news travelled slower” !!!

    What is wrong with the link and benign0’s comment and idiot peryodistas failed to analyze? THEY ARE CONTRADICTORY. this news article says Binay got high marks because of his failure to save 3 filipino lives on the other hand benign0 said his good news is slow to work thru the Filipino brains.

    Not one columnist saw this spot on the changes. HAAAAY NAKU !!!!

  8. Renato Pacifico says:

    WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I wanted to become a journalist. I like the picture taking side of it and the literary contests in columns. Thank goodness, I never became a journalists or I will be just one of these pack of idiots.

  9. Renato Pacifico says:

    The death of 3 Filipinos in China brought death to the news. No invistigation who gave the 3 Filipinos drugs. There is no news on invistigation where Singson got his drugs. There is no senate invistigation. no news on congressional invistigation. nada!!! There is no news criticizing “law-abiding” “religious” citizen of sending the children of the victim to china to see their parents for the last time. NADA. NOTHING!
    Ganito ba ka gago ang mga Fiipinos? THEY DESERVE THE NEWS, NEWSPAPERS AND JOURNALISTS THAT THEY ARE HAVING NOW. Maraming Salamat!

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