President Aquino should investigate his people at the airport and the immigration bureau. They are as complicit in what happened to the three Filipinos executed in China yesterday as the drug syndicates.
The execution of the three Filipinos in China yesterday brought out the ignorance of a number of Filipinos on the issue of overseas Filipino workers and the sufferings they have to endure . In many forums, the view that the three alleged drug mules had it coming and that they deserved their fate because they were trafficking in drugs has gained traction.
While it is true that drug syndicates have been targetting OFWs and recruiting them to bring drugs to other countries, it is also equally true that many of those who fall prey to these syndicates are OFWs who are either unwitting or in distress, often deciding only to become drug couriers out of desperation.
In the case of Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, there is strong indication, as insisted by no less than Vice President Jejomar Binay, that she had been an unwitting drug mule who was tricked into bringing in a luggage lined with heroin. She identified a person, Tita Cacayan, as the one who recruited her for a job in China and who was the one who gave her the luggage that she used.
According to migrant groups, these drug syndicates often befriend their targets to the point that these OFWs would accept without question any favor their “friend” would ask, such as bringing in luggage through airport security. Authorities have said that Filipinos, particularly the women, are too kind for their own good. We see this every time in airports, when a passenger would bring in the luggage of a stranger just because the stranger pleaded that he or she would want to save some money on extra luggage.
OFWs are particularly easy targets for drug syndicates, especially when their survival in foreign countries is at stake or when they could not get help from government to be repatriated home.
The point is not to romanticize these OFWs but only to make it clear that there is a larger context to their suffering, that when they claim they were duped into carrying a luggage containing drugs, it could very well be true.
This brings me to a question that has bothered me for some time: How did the three manage to slip through the airport in the Philippines with all those drugs in their possession? Does this mean the drug syndicates and the airport or immigration police are in cahoots? Or, at the very least, the anti-drug screening at Philippine airports are inadequate?
I raise this question because if the Filipino airport authorities were doing their jobs, the three could not have slipped through and get arrested in China. Which means, because we don’t have death penalty in the Philippines, the three could be in jail, alive, at this very moment. And the authorities could have had a better chance of investigating what happened to them.
To push this argument a little further, the incompetence or corruption at the airport can also be blamed for the deaths of Sally Villanueva, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain.
President Aquino should investigate his people at the airport and the immigration bureau. They are as complicit in this case as the drug syndicates.