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Editorial

Satrap president

/ 11:59 PM December 04, 2011

Vice President Jejomar Binay would now be in Beijing to personally carry a letter of President Aquino to Chinese President Hu Jintao appealing for the commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment of a Filipino convicted for drug trafficking. Except that Beijing firmly put its foot down, saying it wasn’t going to accommodate the Vice President or the Philippine request.

There should be a statute of limitations to embarrassing incidents; a moratorium on masochism.

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It may be recalled that last February, Binay made a similar trip to China, which obtained the postponement of the execution of three convicted drug mules, two of them women. But the three were executed just the same three months later.

There was no indication the same request could have produced a different outcome this time. The convict, a 35-year-old man, was arrested in September 2008 allegedly trying to smuggle 1.5 kilograms of heroin into Guangxi province in southern China from Malaysia. He was convicted by the High People’s Court of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The sentence was affirmed by China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC). For all intents and purposes, his fate is sealed.

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Various Philippine representations have appealed with Chinese authorities. Even Amnesty International has joined the Philippines’ appeal to stop the execution. To no avail. Beijing made it unequivocally clear that it was standing pat on its decision.

Considering the Chinese high court’s affirmation of the death sentence, and what happened before when the Philippine government appealed for a commutation, the Aquino administration should have readily seen that Binay’s “mercy mission” and the like would have been superfluous, a waste of people’s money and political capital.

There are some 200 Filipinos in Chinese prisons facing drug charges. Would Aquino send the Vice President to the Chinese capital to plead for a stay of execution every time there’s a conviction?

But of course the state must demonstrate its concern for its citizens abroad. It must show that government has a “heart” especially for its overseas contract workers and economic migrants, even when all that it could show for that is a sprawling bureaucracy—the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, etc.—that has been set up with people’s money but still charges every overseas-bound worker just about every fee in the book with heartless abandon. Apparently the solicitude must extend to drug mules. After all, every citizen with legal troubles abroad should be given the benefit of the doubt and provided protection.

But in all this, the fact is, the Aquino administration is only reaping the wages of its mismanagement of public safety and order and its lack of diplomatic vision. Because of the Luneta fiasco on Aug. 23, 2010, in which several Hong Kong tourists were hostaged and killed, Aquino has pursued a policy of appeasement with Beijing, without however sanctioning those responsible for the mishandling.

The appeasement has extended to abandoning the human rights plank of Philippine diplomacy. When China protested the naming of imprisoned dissident writer Liu Xiaobo to the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, the Philippines joined the Beijing-led boycott of the awarding ceremonies in Oslo, Norway last January. It could have sent a  minor consular officer from any of the Scandinavian missions of the Philippines in order to appease China while saving Filipino face and reaffirming before the world that the Philippines remains a bastion of human rights. But it did not. The Aquino government’s embrace of the Chinese position was unequivocal: it became a lap dog to the anti-human rights dragon of totalitarian China. In effect, it discarded the democratic legacy of Edsa, ironically championed by the President’s late mother who herself was nominated for the peace prize.

The Aquino government defended its boycott of the Nobel awards ceremony by saying it did not want to undermine its efforts to save the three drug mules. And we now know how Beijing rewarded its satrap in Manila by postponing the execution only to carry it out three months later.

Last October, an obscure Chinese group, which  denies it has ties with the communist authorities, gave its version of the coveted international Nobel award—The Confucius Peace Prize—to Vladimir Putin. We would not be surprised if Aquino would send Binay to the awarding ceremonies this December.

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TAGS: China, drug trafficking, Foreign affairs, Illegal drugs, Jejomar Binay, OFW
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