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Monday, February 28, 2011
In China, what the law says stays
Can the Filipino drug mules be saved?
FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) Updated February 19, 2011 12:00 AM
No. I don’t think so. It is clear from the statement issued by the Chinese Embassy that the judgment against the three Filipino drug mules is final.
The Chinese Embassy made that clear in its press release.
“The Chinese law prescribes that any person, no matter that he or she is a Chinese citizen or a foreigner, who commits crime shall be brought to justice in strict accordance with law. No one is privileged to transcend law.”
So that is the first factor to consider, the Chinese take their laws seriously and any deviation from the diktat of the law, as far as they are concerned cannot be tolerated. The punishment for being drug mules might be draconian -execution – but this is their way of combating crime. It is difficult to believe that when they committed the crime they were not aware of what awaited them if they were caught. In my opinion it is not just the Chinese who may benefit from the strict application of the law, so would Filipinos. This should serve as a lesson for our kababayans that it does not pay to be made to carry drugs for drug lords. That should discourage any attempts in the future.
China has had a long history of drug trafficking and know how seriously drugs can hurt society and the country. It is not just about the wellbeing of individuals. They have not forgotten their lessons in the past and can hardly be expected to be lax. It is true of other countries as well, the Philippine included. The Opium Wars, that is also known as the Anglo-Chinese Wars damaged trade and relations between the two countries. At the time China was ruled by the Qing dynasty.
Opium was smuggled by merchants from British India into China despite Chinese prohibition laws.
China was defeated in the opium wars against Britain and had no choice but tolerate the opium trade and paid dearly for it.
According to Wikipedia, “Britain forced the Chinese government into signing the Treaty of Nanking and the Treaty of Tientsin also known as the Unequal Treaties which included provisions for the opening of additional ports to unrestricted foreign trade, for fixed tariffs for the recognition of both countries as equal in correspondence; and for the cession of Hong Kong to Britain. The British also gained extraterritorial rights. Several countries followed Britain and sought similar agreements with China. Many Chinese found these agreements humiliating and these sentiments contributed to the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864), the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), and the downfall of the Qing”.
The Philippines is a prime example of a country weakened by rampant drug traffic — destroying lives and families because the law has not been strictly enforced. There may be a difference in how we punish drug mules. The death penalty may have been abolished in the Philippines, it has not been in China.
To them “meting out death penalty to drug-related criminals perpetrating extremely serious crimes serves deterring and preventing drug-related crimes,” adds the official press release from the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
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That is why I am not optimistic about President Jejomar Binay’s trip to Beijing to make an appeal on behalf of the Filipino drug mules sentenced to death by a final verdict.
I spoke to the Chinese Embassy officials and they refused to speculate on what Vice President Jejomar Binay would accomplish by making a personal appeal to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. “This is the first time I have experienced something like this,” the official said so he would not predict the outcome.
President Noynoy’s boycott of the Nobel Peace Prize Award in Oslo to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese activist was believed to be an appeasement on behalf of the Filipino drug mules.
* * *
What I foresee is a lot of scraping and bowing from the Philippine side and inscrutable smiles from the Chinese. Indeed I am sure Vice President Binay will be feted and honored in accordance with the close relations between the Chinese and the Philippines.
The Aquino government cannot say they have not been given an audience and a hearing of the case for the Filipinos but it is a matter of priorities.
Binay’s visit will be cordial but it will not produce the desired results. The two sides can be expected to make diplomatic noises to continue to work together to combat drug-related crimes. It will be conveyed to Binay that despite the final verdict cooperation between the two countries will continue not only about drugs but also about other political and economic concerns.
This, I think is what the Chinese want to be able to do, try to reconcile what seems like a contradiction — to affirm the decision final but he is welcome to make an appeal.
Vice President Jejomar Binay himself said he was not optimistic and only a miracle could save three Filipinos. It looks more like a courtesy call to me. The Chinese courts have already reviewed the case after which the decision becomes final.
In my view Philippine government should conduct more extensive briefings to Filipinos working overseas on what awaits them if they were to be drug carriers for syndicates.
* * *
Of course drug peddling is a more severe crime than cheating in elections but this is a good time to compare how crimes are dealt with in both countries. For months, since the last election on May 10, Filipinos have said it was necessary to look at and closely review how the Smartmatic PCOS machines were allegedly manipulated in the last elections.
There was deafening silence from officials concerned. So it is good to hear from one of the Comelec Commissioners that the PCOS machines should not be used again until questions from concerned citizens and computer experts both local and foreign have been answered. Finally citizens are being given their due.
This is the first time that a Comelec commissioner has come out to say that “We should come out first with that Comelec evaluation on what really happened during the May 10 elections. Only then should we decide whether to re-use the PCOS machines or not.”