Church, lawmakers mourn deaths of Pinoy drug mules

Posted at 03/30/2011 7:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Different stakeholders on Wednesday mourned the death of 3 Filipinos executed in China for drug trafficking. 

Catholic bishops condoled with the families of Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain—the 3 Filipinos executed in China—and offered prayers for them.
 
“I also pray for all those OFWs who are under great suffering at this time,” Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). 
 
Kidapawan Bishop Romulo dela Cruz is saddened by what happened and hoped that OFWs will be more careful in the future.
 
“I’m sorry for the families who are bereaving now. We already know that there are laws in each country about drugs… this is a lesson for all to be careful and to respect the laws of other nations also,” dela Cruz added.
 
Credo, Batain and Villanueva were executed by lethal injection on Wednesday morning after they were found guilty of drug trafficking.
 
Hours after the execution, lawmakers also expressed deep sympathy to the bereaved families.
 
“I am saddened by this news like many Filipinos but let this be a painful lesson to Filipinos, for them to be more careful and not to allow themselves to be used this way and to the government, for them to make sure that each Filipino charged for the commission of a crime should be given the best available legal assistance from the beginning, whether he is guilty or not if only to ensure that his rights will be protected in a foreign land," said Sen. Francis Escudero.
 
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the government did everything it can to save the lives of the 3 Filipinos in China. She said the 3 were bound by Chinese laws when they entered China. 
 
"Kung pumasok ka ng isang bansa, ibig sabihin tanggap mo ang mga batas nila," she said in a phone interview. "Hindi naman puwedeng ikaw na alien, mas maganda pa ang trato sa 'yo ng gobyernong pinuntahan mo." 
 
Santiago believes China did the right thing in enforcing its laws, and that the Philippines has no basis to protest. 
 
"They simply enforced without discrimination a long-standing rule in its jurisdiction. There's no grounds for the Philippines to protest or make a brazen objection," she said. 
 
For Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano, the incident should serve as a wake up call to President Benigno Aquino III. 
 
“The increasing landlessness, joblessness, and dire poverty at home cannot be addressed by the government's labor-export policy but by fundamental social and economic reforms. It is high-time for the government to provide decent jobs in the country and put an end to its labor-export policy that treats OFWs as cheap commodities for export," Mariano said.
 
Human Rights Commissioner Etta Rosales described the execution as being “victimized twice over”.
 
"It's a very sad and lamentable because they were victimized twice over, first by the drug trafficking syndicates, then by the inflexibilities of the Chinese criminal justice system,” Rosales said in a statement.
 
Rosales hopes that the Philippine government would step up its effort to eradicate poverty, which, she said, is a reason why drug trafficking and other social ills remain.
 
“We grieve with the 3 Filipinos' families and hope their sacrifice leads to genuine reforms," she said.
 
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima reminded that China has its own legal system.
 
"It's very sad news, but China has its own legal system. Also there is no showing that our OFWs were denied due process or that there was an arbitrary judgment, there is not much that we can do. In a sense, victim din naman sila and its hard to pass judgment,” de Lima said.
 
De Lima said President Aquino already gave instructions to concerned agencies to go after syndicates involved in drug smuggling to avoid a repetition of what happened to the 3 Pinoys executed in China.
 
"The practice must be put to a stop. We have to institute measures like mas maghigpit sa ports of entry and exit and use sophisticated technology para ma-detect yun illegal substance lalo na ngayon na sophisticated na raw ang paraan ng pag-smuggle nito." De Lima added. ABS-CBN News