MANILA, Philippines - Grinding poverty and the illegal drug trade are to blame for the execution of 3 Filipino drug couriers in China Wednesday, two activist groups said.
In a statement, Migrante International expressed its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of executed Filipinos Sally Ordinario, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain.
Migrante said the 3 Filipinos were victims of large drug syndicates "who took advantage of their unawareness, vulnerability and desperation to earn a living for their families."
"If anything, their plight and deaths have made the government and the Filipino people aware that for as long as masterminds, operators and coddlers of international drug trafficking syndicates remain scot-free, there will be more victims like them who will be trapped in the unjust situation of being drug mules," the group said in a statement.
Migrante said there are more than 70 Filipinos on death row in China alone for the same offense.
The group said poverty compels millions of Filipinos to leave their families and find better-paying jobs abroad.
Umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan echoed the statement, saying the Philippine government should help stem the tide of Filipinos leaving for legal or illegal work abroad.
"This is a wake-up call, a grim reminder of the dire straits faced today by Filipinos here and abroad,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“Economic desperation has forced tens of thousands of Filipinos to find work abroad, legally or illegally. They wittingly or unwittingly face dangers just so they could provide for their families."
Reyes said the executions of the 3 Filipinos should make the government rethink and abandon its labor-export policy.
He said government should work to provide long-term employment opportunities in the country so that Filipinos will not have to go abroad and be vulnerable to exploitation.
"Government should also exert more effort to protect OFWs from drug traffickers and others who are out to exploit them,” he said.
Malacañang today said it will run after drug traffickers who continue to use Filipinos as “sacrificial pawns.”
In a statement read in a press conference immediately after the execution of Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said “we are resolved to ensure that the chain of victimization, as pushers entrap and destroy lives in pursuit of their trade, will be broken. Those who traffic in illegal drugs respect no laws, no boundaries, and have no scruples about destroying lives.”
Lacierda stressed: “Our response must be relentless, with government and the citizenry working together to ensure vigilance and mutual support to prevent our countrymen from being used by drug pushers as sacrificial pawns, whether at home or abroad.”
He said the nation sympathizes with the families of the 3 Filipinos.
He said their deaths are a “vivid lesson in the tragic toll the drug trade takes on entire families.”