Senators want actions to prevent another execution of Filipinos abroad

March 31, 2011 4:54 am 

MANILA, March 30 – Saying there is nothing the Philippine government could do on the Chinese laws that led to the execution of three Filipino drug mules, senators urged on Wednesday the government to look into the circumstances that have brought about the situation.

“As a nation, we grieve for the loss of our kababayans (countrymen) who were executed in China today. But along with our sympathies to their families and loved ones, we must also look into the circumstances that have brought about the situation,” Senator Pia Cayetano said in a press statement.

Despite last-minute appeals from the Philippine government, the Chinese authorities executed Ramon Credo, 42, Sally Villanueva, 32, and Elizabeth Batain, 38 who were arrested separately in China in 2008 for smuggling heroin and sentenced to death.

Cayetano, chair of the Senate committee on youth, women and family relations, delivered a privilege speech in November last year, calling for a Senate probe on the rising number of Filipino drug mules on death row, most of them women.

“In China alone, about 70 of our kababayans are facing execution for drug trafficking while about a hundred more are on death row in other countries,” Cayetano said.

Senator Loren Legarda said the government should strengthen its information dissemination about the law of other countries like China to prevent Filipinos from falling into traps of the drug syndicates.

”That’s their (China) law. What I’m saying is that they’re Filipinos who seek for a better pasture abroad but some are duped, some are tricked, some are out of desperation fall into traps because of sheer ignorance or needs. From the start, it should be stopped,” Legarda said.

Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said she would push her proposal to amend the Anti-Trafficking Act to give it more teeth against drug syndicates which victimized innocent Filipinos.

Senator Francis Escudero said the execution of the Filipinos should serve as “painful lesson” not only for the government but for others who allow themselves to be used by the criminals.

"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,” Escudero said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan called on his colleagues in the government to modernize the economy “so that our people would seek gainful employment here at home rather than elsewhere.”

”This could not have happened if they have not taken chances abroad,” Pangilinan said. Pangilinan said the government should go after “heartless illegal recruiters, corrupt immigration officials, and drug traffickers who operate with impunity in our country.”

”Our fellow countrymen is being used as drug mules is just the tip of the iceberg, so they say. The bigger issue facing us is an inept justice system and an economy that cannot support its population. Let this be our motivation to give our people what they truly deserve: a just and progressive Philippines,"” Pangilinan added.

The Philippine government had made repeated appeals in recent months to spare the lives of the three Filipinos but the Chinese government insisted their cases would be dealt with according to their laws. (PNA)

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