“It is just that the Philippines is less powerful than China in warfare” remarked a neighbor in the allusion that the Philippines is powerless to impose her will over its larger and far powerful Asian contemporary following yesterday’s execution of the 3 drug mules.
Stunned by this comment I retorted, “Do you honestly believe that the Philippines should go to war with China for them?”
Such unwarranted emotional interpretation of events appears to be the offshoot of the quality of reasoning peddled by mainstream media which the vulnerable public could have misinterpreted.
From the Inquirer.net
Three Filipinos convicted of drug smuggling were executed in China Wednesday, triggering condemnation in the Catholic Philippines and despair for family members who shared their final moments...
The executions came after repeated pleas by the Philippine government for their sentences to be commuted were turned down, and ended vigils in the country where supporters of the trio had prayed for a miracle.
There are many issues encompassing this case which makes it complex.
One it is the issue of drug trafficking.
Two it is the issue of death penalty.
The populist sentiment seems mostly aligned with the position taken by the influential Catholic church which hasn’t been about the legitimacy of DOMESTIC death penalty laws but death penalty as a moral principle.
From the same article,
Amnesty International as well as the influential Roman Catholic church swiftly condemned the executions.
"We strongly condemn the executions of the three Filipinos," Agence France-Presse quoted Amnesty's Philippine representative Aurora Parong.
"The Philippines should have taken a stronger action, and it is now its moral duty to lead a campaign against death penalty in Asia."
Amnesty International says China is the world's biggest executioner, with thousands of convicts killed every year. The Philippines has abolished the death penalty.
I wholeheartedly agree that death penalty should be abolished. But this is largely a non-sequitur. As you can see from the above article, the Philippines had been suggested to take “stronger action”? But how?
The populist perspective fundamentally ignores the fact that this issue is PRIMARILY about China’s DOMESTIC policies and NOT of ours.
It is the issue of FOREIGN POLITICAL relations.
If the US hasn’t been able to successfully compel China to alter her exchange rate policies (to resolve so called global imbalances) or on other contentious geopolitical issues as the UN environment saving program called the Kyoto Protocol, how the heck can we expect that the Philippines implement “stronger action” on China to save the felons-turned-victims?
As an aside, I don’t have the full knowledge of the circumstances behind this case for me to pass any judgments. I can only deduce from what I read or hear. So I am neutral on this.
So aside from geopolitical relations, the other very important issue is the FALSE impression that the Philippine political leadership can do something at all. This is an example of the religion of politics-the errant belief that government CAN and HAS to do SOMETHING.
Where the local political leadership can hardly control or manage domestic political issues, like the Congressional impeachment of the Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez or for many other matters, how can we expect the Philippine government to WANGLE her interests over China? Wage war as my neighbor implied?
The fact is that territorial borders IMPOSE a limit on the sphere of political power influence of the Philippine government.
This also means that the political priorities of the Chinese government will determine the fate of the Filipino drug mules and NOT the Philippine government (as had been the case).
The most we can do is to perhaps appeal—which is what the government did! But this serves no more than as photo OP and as advertisement mileage for politicians.
But in the realization that the Chinese government has been the largest practitioner of the death penalty, mostly applied to their own citizens, Filipinos shouldn’t expect much even from the government’s appeal.
As the Economist reported (bold emphasis added)
CHINA executes more of its own citizens than any other country, and more than all others in the world combined. “Thousands” of Chinese were executed in 2009 according to Amnesty International's annual study, which states that an exact number is impossible to determine because information on the death penalty is regarded as a state secret. But this gruesome record may yet change. The National People's Congress is reported to be reducing the number of offences that are punishable by execution. Among the crimes that currently carry the death penalty are bribing an official and stealing historical relics
Fatalities from China’s death penalty have even been far larger than the composite deaths of the whole world!!!
I’d like to add that there are reportedly some 125 cases of Filipinos scheduled to be executed elsewhere in the world where 85 are allegedly drug related cases, so why pick on China?
I am not a defender of the incumbent administration. But the essential point over this controversy is that the mainstream and the gullible public don’t seem to realize that this is a foreign policy issue, subject to the whims of China’s political leadership regarding the implementation of local rules on our supposedly erring immigrants or OFWs. This is also the issue of China's political and legal system.
This isn’t an issue of nationalist schism.
Importantly, this unfortunate event exposes on the grand delusion that the government CAN do something WHEN they can’t.
Filipinos abroad should realize that they are subject to political risk environment of their host countries that are vastly different than here, and must learn to safeguard their interest than rely on the government.
All the drivel from politicians about more spending to augment legal services for OFWs represent as mere ‘feel-good-vote-buying’ postures. Remember we don’t share the same legal process, institutions or framework with China, thus any assumption for more legal spending would likely only translate to waste.
Finally, when I asked the above question to the media indoctrinated youth, he simply turned around and walked away.
UPDATE: (I forgot to include this)
What happens if the Philippine government does successfully negotiate the mitigation of the sentences of the accused? Would this not serve as moral hazard that could encourage more drug related trades?
It is bad enough for us to expect our government to patently interfere with many aspects of our lives. But it is even worst to believe that our government has to intervene into the lives of people who lives beyond our borders.