OPINION: What to say

Teddy Locsin Jr.

Posted at Sep 15 2016 01:51 AM

What did President Duterte 
Tell President Widodo 
About Mary Jane Veloso
Condemned to be shot 
For possession of illegal substance? 
We have only the word of Widodo 
That Duterte said
“Go ahead.” 

In fact President Jokowi—isn’t his name Widodo?—said: “President Duterte allowed her to be executed.” 

Now, what is the duty of a Philippine president with regard to a Philippine national about to be killed by a foreign government? That duty is singular and not susceptible to any other interpretation: 
    
He must do, 
And he must say, 
He must resort to 
And exhaust every means 
To save the condemned from death. 
    
This is true even if the President has a strong law and order bias; even if he believes in the death penalty; and even if he believes in the death penalty outside the courts. He cannot let a foreign entity take a local life if he can help it. A Philippine president who lets a foreign government kill a Philippine national establishes a bad precedent that is thoroughly un-presidential. 
    
But let’s face it. All our presidents were annoyed whenever the need arose to plead for the life of an OFW, especially OFWS who patently committed a capital offence. 
    
At the end of the road, you can avoid taking a life, whatever the circumstances short of self-defense from a mortal threat—and always it must be within reason. And that includes Sarah Balabagan’s defense of her sexual honor by stabbing her randy employer 60 times. 
    
It is one thing to say, “No!” 
It is another thing to kick and scream “No!” 
It is a whole other enchilada to say “No! No! No! No! No!” over 60 times; punctuating each “No!” with a stab. Halfway through, even a horny Arab will get the message. 
    
That is why every Philippine president did his utmost to get a death sentence in a foreign land commuted. No president will say, about a Filipino in death row, “Go ahead. Follow your law. I won’t interfere.” It is stupid to argue that a profession of non-interference is only consistent with the President’s strong feelings about American interference in our national affairs. 

And speaking of American interference, why is Duterte going ahead with substantial parts of the BBL, when the BBL was crafted by Americans. And it was all for the sole purpose of giving the only living pro-American Muslim terrorists on the planet an independent homeland of their own in Mindanao. Why not give them Texas? The heat and dryness there are congenial to Islamists. Besides, the U.S. took Texas from Mexico. 
    
In the case of Mary Jane Veloso, it would not even be interference in Indonesian law, which must make allowance even for an accused patently guilty of possession of illegal substance when that substance was planted on her by her Filipino recruiter. 
    
It would have been more consistent with Duterte’s inclination and international reputation to have told Widodo—or Jokowi as the case may be—not to shoot Mary Jane Veloso just yet; because the world will soon get news that the Filipino recruiter who turned Mary Jane Veloso into an unwitting drug mule was killed in a police encounter. 
    
And that would have satisfied Widodo, who would not need to free Mary Jane but can keep her in prison because unwitting possession is still punishable. But not in a capital way. 
    
There is no way around this embarrassment except for President Duterte to pick up the phone and tell this to Jokowi, “I will deliver on the recruiter unlike Noynoy before me. Just give me a day.” 

(Mary Jane Veloso’s stay of execution was premised on the prosecution and conviction of her recruiter. What more on the recruiter’s extrajudicial execution.)