During the last 20 years, I have toured at least 20 cities in China. One of the most memorable of them were two trips hosted by President (the Chinese equivalent of Chief Justice) Xiao Yang of the Supreme Peoples Court when I visited not only Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Chongquing but also the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydro-power project in the world.
Chief Justice Xiao (now also retired like me), whom I consider a close friend and who has visited our country twice at my invitation, showed not just the many interesting Chinese tourist spots but likewise the different judicial courts of China. The Chinese judicial system may be different from ours but it works well and renders justice in accordance with Chinese laws, traditions and history. The Philippine judicial system, which is patterned after that of the United States, may be different from yours. But our people definitely respect and accept the Chinese courts’ ability to render justice fairly and objectively.
That we respect the Chinese judicial system is shown by our peoples’ acceptance of the judgments rendered by the Supreme Peoples Court convicting and executing some Filipinos for drug offenses. While there were requests for clemency or postponement of the death sentences, our people nonetheless accepted the judgments rendered and executions undertaken by the Chinese authorities.
Compare this with the howling, demonstrations and rallies undertaken when Filipinos were convicted and sentenced to death in some other countries. In one instance many years ago, the protests were so virulent that at least two Cabinet members, the secretary of foreign affairs and the secretary of labor, had to resign from their posts to own the responsibility for these death judgments imposed by the foreign tribunals.
In stark contrast, our people accepted and respected the judgments rendered by the Supreme Peoples Court of China. This, I think, is a testament to the close friendly relations between our two countries and peoples, made possible no doubt by the outstanding work of diplomats, like Ambassador Liu.
Mr. Ambassador, I know that you have many achievements in fostering the close and enduring friendship between our two countries. These have been detailed earlier by the speech of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. But as a retired Chief Justice of my country, may I salute you in particular for your silent work in earning the admiration and esteem of our people leading to their respect and acceptance of the Chinese judicial system and the final judgments of the Supreme Peoples Court, even if such judgments may have meant the loss of life of fellow Filipinos.
Your Excellency, thank you for your outstanding service in promoting close ties between the Philippines and China. We will certainly lose a great friend but we wish you success in your new post. On a personal level, I will miss you not only in the official diplomatic circles but also in the green links of the Manila Golf Club where I see you tee off in the very early mornings before you begin your official work. Mabuhay!