My Dear Ceres

This is my letter to Ma. Ceres P. Doyo on her column Human Face.

My Dear Ceres:

I have read your piece entitled “Lethal.” I was at work when our three fellow Filipinos were executed in China. So there was no television in the office. I work as a lawyer in the Office of the Solicitor General, and so it was only on my way home to Laguna when I saw on TV the news about Villanueva, Credo and Batain’s death.

While watching at the backseat of the bus, I saw their families crying and longing for their loved ones. I fixed my gaze on TV and soon after I found tears flowing from my eyes. I could not understand why I was silently weeping. They were not in any way related to me. What more, haven’t they been convicted because they were drug mules?

I realized, however, that being a son of an overseas Filipino worker (my Dad worked in Guam but now has already joined our Lord in heaven), I can relate to them and to their families. My own father would have to sacrifice being away from us, simply to earn a living and send us to school. He chose to be away from us and sacrifice precious years of bonding as father and son, so that we can have a comfortable life.

I can relate now to the three convicted fellow Filipinos because one way or the other, they too have dreamt of a good life for their families; good life that our own economy cannot provide them because of mis-governance and corruption in government and indifference of the rich and ruling class; good life that they thought they could avail of from a far-away land, like China.

I wept for them because they reflect so much many of our own dreams… and how those dreams were broken simply by the absence of opportunities in our country. I wept with their families, because death is a separation that would never ever be bridged, except may be with prayers – if indeed there is heaven where justice and opportunities prevail.

My dear Ceres, I recounted to a friend how tears flowed from my eyes watching yesterday’s news report. Then my friend asked me, “Why?” Initially, I could not find words to give reasons for those tears. Indeed, if they are truly guilty, they deserve their fate. But then, somewhere deep in my heart, a voice is telling me that there is something wrong with “killing” in whatever form it is. There is something wrong when one kills a bystander waiting for a ride home; when one kills in the name of country; when one kills to avenge an injustice; when one kills in the name of justice; when one kills to conceal a crime…

Killing in whatever form is wrong. A State that kills its citizen and other nationalities to implement a law is wrong. It is wrong because it admits that it cannot implement its laws; it is wrong because a State, although has an obligation to protect itself, has also the obligation to respect human rights. It is wrong because a State that kills is a State that has given up on its basic obligation to make its land truly a home for everyone.

Finally, killing a person for a crime he/she might have done is wrong, because what if that person is not really guilty? As a government lawyer, I saw how technicalities could imprison innocent people. If a Filipino can commit mistake in the dispensation of justice, the Chinese cannot claim otherwise. Man is prone to committing mistake. And so once killed, what could bring their life?

My heart weeps for Villanueva, Credo and Batain. And I guess, their death will haunt our national consciousness. But we should stop from giving motherhood statements. The government now will have to work hard to create opportunities in our motherland; the government will have to work double to end the menace of drugs. And we should be serious even before all tears run dry.

Thank you, my dear Ceres, for the opportunity to share with you my thoughts and my tears.

To the family of our countrymen, who shed their life, condolence and stand firm.


Arnold Rimon Martinez
Associate Solicitor III
Office of the Solicitor General
(02) 8173211