02 April 2011

Death, Miracles and the Loaded Blaming Game

Three Filipinos have been executed in China for being drug mules recently. Ramon Credo was arrested in Xiamen in 2008 for smuggling 4,113 grams of heroin; Sally Ordinario-Villanueva was also arrested in Xiamen for smuggling 4,110 grams of heroin; and Elizabeth Batain was arrested in Shenzhen for smuggling 6,800 grams of heroin. All three were executed last March 30. And with that, the Philippine society has been on a fuss.

Well, first, the three were supposed to be executed in February, but President Aquino sent his Vice-President to China as an envoy, and the executions were delayed. However, the executions still happened, and all three were given lethal injections.

Given this scenario, it is quite interesting to see the reactions of the Filipino, from all branches of society. Reading comments in the news articles, for example the one I linked to above, makes me think and ponder about what the people think about this matter. And somehow I feel disturbed.

First, there's always the loaded blaming game. People seem to think that it's always going to be the government's fault. It seems that the government will always lose. People have arguments saying that the government is at fault for not creating jobs, that the government is at fault for having a large poor sector, and so forth. Now, as much as I agree that the government has these responsibilities, let us not forget who elected this government. It is the populace who actually put these politicians into place. So even if the government has been lacking, we are the ones who put these people into place. It was our choice all along.

Second, whatever happened to self-determination? These people opted to be drug mules, and their poverty cannot be used as an excuse here. Is it natural to talk to strangers, and then this stranger will then ask you to take a package and deliver it to another person somewhere else? C'mon folks, it's 6,800 grams of heroin, that's double the weight of a newborn baby. It's quite a big package! Yes, there's the issue that you are poor, there's the issue that if you aren't caught (and that's a big IF) you'll get some cash, but it is still your responsibility to obey the laws of the country you're entering. And in the case of China, carrying such a package results in death. It is your responsibility to know that, and you cannot play the poverty or ignorance card and be scot-free.

Third, I find the metaphysical reactions to these quite bizarre. We find the group of Catholic god experts praying for miracles, and even some people left comments in the news that China should go to Hell. Seriously, people? Is praying the best you can do? If I were to die, if I were to be executed, I would definitely not like anyone to pray for me. If that is the best strategy these god experts have, then sorry but I find it pathetic. I find it pitiful that they think some mumbling of religious texts would result in a miracle that would potentially save these three people from execution.

The sad thing though, is that they have a belief that is infallible. The three people have been executed, and yet I am pretty sure they still believe in their god and that their god experts still have credibility. Assuming that prayer can indeed save lives, well, these three people weren't saved, right? Maybe they didn't pray hard enough? Maybe they prayed the wrong way? Maybe they mispronounced some mantra? Because obviously their prayer didn't work.

Oh well, life happens. Sometimes, life throws us lemons, and the best we can do is make lemonade out of it. As much as we want life to be orderly, there are times when things get chaotic and out of control. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to move forward and move on, and learn from the mistakes of the people that are involved so that we don't find ourselves in the same predicament.

(Windows on the Trail, from my Ollantaytambo Series)


  1. You are right – they decided to take the packages, it was their choice, poverty or greed made them do it and they lost. Maybe if they had had a better lawyer they could have been deported to their country for sentencing? Maybe not as China needed to set an example or prove that they follow their own laws. Here in the US it is the same. A while back a UK citizen was executed in Texas even though England asked that he be sent back home – but then Texas has more people on death row than other states….I don’t know if they enjoy being like China.

  2. Vagabonde,

    Honestly though, I am not sure whether I agree to the idea of the death penalty. At this point, I could go either way. I like the idea of retribution: after all, if someone killed a victim, it's simply just to do the same thing to the attacker. But then that's for another blog post.

  3. I read a lot of similar stories when we traveled in SE Asia, foreigners (lots of Australian, British and American) being sent to death row in Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore because they were caught with drugs.

    I'm against the death penalty in any case. But hey, most of these mules weren't innocent, they were big time drug smugglers. And they knew what they were getting into: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xiaozhuli/5356978226/

    I don't think they deserve the death penalty. But I'm not going to say they were poor little foreigners who just made a mistake either.

  4. Zhu,

    I totally agree. it's just too unbelievable to play the ignorance-and-innocence card. It's not like someone just inserted this surreptitious looking package into your luggage. There definitely is an ounce of blame to be put into the mules themselves.

  5. And here I was thinking that I wasn't the only one feeling totally sorry for them.

    Don't get me wrong though, I felt sorry for them at first. Then I felt that they were pretty much asking for it when they accepted suitcases from people they don't really know.

    In the end, I think it all boils down to the inefficiency of the authorities. First, because they couldn't crackdown on the drug syndicates, and second because the airport people let the three Filipinos through, when the heroin in the suitcases would have and should have been detected.

    Oh wait, it's not just inefficiency. It's downright corruption.

  6. prabster,

    You know, I never thought of that, but you're right. Whenever I am flying out of Manila, I always get amazed at how "strict" the level of security is: you have to scan all of your luggage (including your check-in luggage) just to enter the terminal, then after depositing them in the check-in counter and paying for the terminal fee, you have to scan your carry-on luggage again and get a pat-down before you enter the duty-free shops, and then you have another metal detector when you go to the gates, and finally, before boarding, you have to open your carry-on luggage and have it manually searched. All this and still things can get through? You might be on to something.

  7. Sounds really fishy, right? It's weird that with all the government and media coverage on the execution, I haven't heard/read/watched anything that's related to how the 3 of 'em got through the airport.