Three Filipinos are set for Death row in China. The Chinese caught them smuggling drugs into China. They were in fact, drug mules. The nation rationalizes that they must be saved. It wasn’t their fault. And so the Palace has sought clemency. The Vice President has made it his personal mission to save these people’s lives. Yet the question arises. Does being poor excuse a Filipino, or any person for that matter for being a drug mule? For smuggling drugs?
If it wasn’t their fault, whose fault was it?
People know smuggling drugs is a criminal offense. These people however poor their background was, did make that conscious choice to be drug mules. They did it to put food on the table for their families. They did it for a better life. There is a Filipino phrase for it. “Kumapit sa patalim,” and roughly translated into English means, you grabbed the edge of the blade.
A thief going into a convenient store and stealing food or money does so because he is hungry too. It doesn’t excuse that he committed the crime.
The laws of China are without a doubt different from the Philippines. They have different culture, and different perspective. And any traveller must respect the laws of the country he or she visits or stays in. It is a covenant. And yet like many countries in the world, illegal drugs is frowned upon and is taken seriously.
This isn’t to say that the Filipinos are the only ones guilty. This isn’t to say of course that those who gave them the drugs shouldn’t be hunted down, and put away. In fact, that should be done.
Committing a person from death row to a life sentence may not the best thing; death isn’t the worst punishment there is. There are some things worst than death, but most people don’t seem to think so. Would you serve a prison sentence, and die in prison? I suppose it would depend on a person. This isn’t to say the government shouldn’t try to seek that the sentence be reduced. It is to say, life in prison may be a harsher punishment than death.
And yes this is cold. It is harsh, but perhaps the nation needs to be colder and harsher, if only by a degree. When choices are made, we should accept their consequences. When laws are made, we should apply them. We will be a better nation because of it.
My take away from all this is that the nation ought to stop rationalizing whenever an OFW commits a crime. Let us give OFWs in prison around the world, the best lawyer for their defense. Let us make sure that justice be done. When all our efforts have been defeated, and if they did commit the crime, we shouldn’t rationalize it that they only did so because of poverty. There are many people slaving each day to get out of poverty who do so without becoming drug mules. Poverty doesn’t excuse us from committing crimes. This isn’t also to say, we shouldn’t hunt down those who made them drug mules in the first place. This isn’t also to say we shouldn’t find better jobs for people in the Philippines, or to wallow in despair.