Monday, June 6, 2011

Nightmare In Bali

 Image by Wedding To Be

This just in: two young ladies flew to Bali on the 28th of May, possibly to enjoy their Summer by experiencing the sights and sounds of another country. What better place than Bali, right? Dubbed an "Island Paradise" by travel aficionados, for the beach-loving Pinoy, Bali is one great summer getaway choice for those who want to explore what the rest of the world offers.

Alas and alack, however, these two girls did not just get to experience a moment to remember in an island paradise, they also ran into a situation that may have scarred them for life. Well, with their Filipino resilience, they may be able to overcome and forget about it in a year's time, but there is no doubt that what happened to them was something that no innocent vacationer should have to go through, at all.

Let me let the story speak for itself: My Traumatic Experience as an Alleged DRUG TRAFFICKER in Bali Indonesia

Done reading? Okay. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

I feel sad for both Chyng Reyes and Dyan Sapaden. I believe that no tourist would want to be put through that kind of treatment, more so decent, hardworking women such as these two. But while I am deeply grieved at the treatment that they had gone through, I would also have to admit that some things had been set in motion that put them on the very spot they are in.

For one, it seems like they've been "set up" by circumstances. Just a few months ago, Filipino drug mules had been executed in China. This had certainly tipped off the International community about how Filipinos had been willing to work as drug couriers.

Second, Filipino drug mules have actually been found out and prosecuted in Bali. More than one perpetrator had been brought to jail, so the Balinese government seemed to have gone the route of racial profiling.

While racial profiling is definitely unfair, it has been used on people from Muslim countries already. While the US does a better job of being more fair to people and giving them the benefit of the doubt and the "innocent until proven guilty" stance, they actually do use racial profiling. What makes us any better than the Al-Qaeda types, and what keeps the Balinese government from practicing exactly that?

However, the way the Balinese government executed it is admittedly crude AND rude. And terrifying and traumatic.

It was even sadder for the two girls because they were beautiful; and to me, it makes sense for a drug cartel to use good-looking women, because in the past, it was not likely that women who are good-looking and who look decent, would be carrying drugs.

I don't have the side of the Bali police in order to make a better, more informed judgment. But it is clear to me that this seemingly random incident has a precedent that was sadly wrought out by our own countrymen.

More than the cruel Bali police, I am degrees more disappointed in the people who made this horror a possibility, the REAL drug mules. Those are the ones who should be hanged. Yes, we understand the poverty that must have driven these people to accept tasks like carrying drugs. BUT it is still clear as crystal that drug trafficking is illegal. Drug trafficking will still get a drug mule caught and jailed -- or hanged, if they happened to pass through countries that are getting tougher in fighting it. Worse, because of these individuals' choices, innocent tourists like Chyng and Dyan get treated this way.

We can always rail at how the Bali government did things crudely and in a cruel manner, but let's face the fact that some Filipinos also made this possible. So what can we do about it?

  1. An appeal to government officials: Stop coddling the guilty. When a highranking public official sided with the Filipino drug mules, he wasn't doing anything for the country; he was making things worse. If a Filipino is guilty, apologize and let the other country cut their heads off. They did illegal things, why should we tolerate these errant individuals?
  2. If, by a long shot, you are being invited to work for a drug cartel, think twice. You could set in motion another series of circumstances like these. While you will roll in money for a while, you could implicate innocents like Chyng and Dyan. And eventually, the government/s will get you.
  3. If you are a casual drug user, a party drug user, stop what you're doing. Either you'll die from what you're doing anyway, or it'll mess up your brain some. And even if the drugs will have no effect on your body right now, still, you are fueling an industry that has just affected the lives of two innocent tourists.

It's easy to shrug off these issues as things that may never affect us. In fact, it's equally easy to not care even if you're doing stuff that allows these things to happen (i.e. casually use drugs in parties), because you may try to rationalize: "So what? I don't know these two anyway. How would what I do affect people I don't even know?" And yet, for every single tablet that a casual drug user will take, you are funding the drug cartels a few hundred to a few thousand pesos more. And with that funding, you allow them to operate a few days more. And with that, they will hire desperate people, including Filipinos, who could get caught, and then cause another country to put us in their racial profiling list. Maybe the next tourist who will get roughed up is an actual casual drug user. Who knows? That would surely be a very funny act of cosmic farce, indeed.

The point is that with tragedies like these, it may be easier to just point fingers at whodunit. It is easier to just slather all the blame on the Balinese government. When honestly, we have our own countrymen to blame for this.

Is it useful to find someone to blame? Definitely not. But what you can do is be like Chyng: NEVER EVER take drugs. NEVER EVER even consider an offer to carry drugs or an unidentified item in exchange for a lot of money. And if things like these happen again, especially to you, blog about it, like Chyng did, so that the whole world will know that this country or that have done you an injustice and will change their policies and possibly sack people like that rough policeman.

Yes, there are some things that the government should do: like talk to the offending government about how they treated our citizens. But more things rest on the individual. Had Filipinos NEVER said "yes" to carrying drugs for a living, I bet you Chyng and Dyan would have had a great Bali getaway without the nightmare.

And if, in all truth, these two women were just the victims of a lascivious, abusive official, then here's hoping that the Bali government will do something about him and make sure he never gets to rough up women at the airport, ever again.

Update: Chyng and Dyan have been assisted by Ms. Susan Ople, and a case has already been filed at the Department of Foreign Affairs as of 6/3/2011.

A thoughtful note by GMA's 24 Oras: If you're traveling outside the Philippines, take note of the contact details, especially the phone numbers of the Philippine Embassy in the country you're visiting. It would be handy in case you get into a situation like this.