Flor Contemplacion - A diplomatic incident.
Flor Contemplacion, a 42 year
old Filipina maid, was convicted by a Singaporean court of killing another
Filipina maid, Delia Maga and Nicholas Huang, the three year
old Singaporean son of her employer on
She had originally confessed to the murders. It was, however, later claimed that she made the confession under duress, and it has also been claimed that she was of doubtful sanity at the time they were committed, although this seems unlikely.
She was hanged by Darshan
Singh, at on
Anger swept the Philippines as the news of the execution broke. Leftist and feminist groups, human rights activists and the media denounced Singapore as a barbaric, tyrannical and totalitarian state with no respect for human rights. The Roman Catholic Church called Singapore a state without mercy.
The execution caused a major diplomatic row between
Flor had said, on the eve of her execution, that she was
ready to die after final pleas for clemency and a new trial had been rejected.
The Philippine Foreign Secretary said that she had thanked Filipinos for their
efforts in trying to save her, but had said that if the stay of execution will
only delay the carrying out of her sentence, she preferred to have an early end
to everyone's suffering instead.
Flor was visited in Changi prison daily by her children, a 21-year-old son, a 17-year-old daughter and 15-year-old twin boys who had last seen their mother in 1989, but her husband Efren didn't visit her because, "I could not bear to see her and not be able to touch her or embrace her after seven years."
He had made an emotional appeal a week earlier for help in saving his wife.
She was informed of the date and the time of the hanging on the Tuesday (14th March) before the execution, as is customary in Singapore and apparently took the news calmly. "She was resigned to her fate and she tried to be strong and told the children to be strong and love one another."
The Philippine government had requested a
stay of execution. Solicitor-General Raul Goco, in a
letter to the
Philippine President Fidel Ramos had personally asked
At least two maids came forward during the
week prior to the hanging to suggest that the little boy drowned during an
epileptic fit in a bathtub and his father killed Mrs. Maga
and framed Flor in a fit of rage.
One, Virginie Parumog, said in an affidavit she had shared a cell with Flor and had evidence of her innocence. In her affidavit, Parumog said Flor told her that, "Della immediately phoned her employer about the incident. Her male employer immediately rushed home. Very angry, the employer strangled Della's neck." Then the employer called the police and implicated Flor in the double murder.
"These claims are pure
fabrication," a Singaporean Home Affairs Ministry statement said.
"The wild and baseless allegations of Virginie Parumog are yet another attempt to stir up controversy over
the Flor Contemplacion
case, without any regard for the truth."
The Home Ministry said Parumog claimed Contemplacion told her that when visiting Della Maga, the two maids had discovered Nicholas had drowned. According to the Ministry, when the police arrived, Contemplacion was not at the house. She was traced later through entries made in Della Maga's diary. In addition, it was not the boy's father who phoned police, it was the mother.
The Ministry statement also dismissed other claims made by Parumog, including that Flor had undergone electric shock treatment while awaiting trial and had been drugged. They said she was given two electro-encephalogram (EEG) tests, one of which was ordered by her own defence psychiatrist and was given medication only for headaches and a sore throat.
The statement also pointed out that Flor had had ample opportunity to protest her innocence while in jail and had chosen not to do so. "During her imprisonment Flor Contemplacion had nine visits by Philippine embassy officials. The government did not receive any representations regarding complaints of ill treatment or claims to Contemplacion's innocence," the ministry said. "Are we to believe that if Flor Contemplacion felt that she was innocent she would chose to say so only to a prostitute in prison," it added.
According to the Home Ministry, Parumog had been arrested in
After the execution.
Flor Contemplacion's body was released and flown back to
Thousands jammed into the small town of San Pablo where she had lived to pay their last respects to Flor. More than 5,000 town residents and supporters from Manila and nearby areas flocked round her one-room house to try to catch a glimpse of her body in its open white coffin.
Roman Catholic Bishop Teodoro Bacani held a requiem mass in the town's crowded cathedral for her. He told the congregation - "She is a symbol of millions of Filipinos driven by poverty to take their chances abroad," "Their lot is pathetic. Their own government neglects them," he added, evoking applause from the congregation.
President Ramos set up an inquiry into the case and ordered the exhumation of Delia Maga's remains to determine how she died. Her former husband complained that he and the family had never seen the autopsy report on her. Conrado Maga said his wife's body bore bruises on the shoulder, neck and face.
"We will try to determine if these are still present and if these could have been caused by a female," a Philippine detective, Maximo Reyes, said in a radio interview. He said they may have to rely on bone findings since the remains have been buried for four years. "Doctors can tell in bone findings if there are fractures or cracks. That means it is not possible for a woman to have done that. It could have been someone stronger," said Reyes, who will initially examine the corpse.
This new inquiry seemed to conclude that the
Singaporeans were right and that Flor Contemplacion probably was guilty although many in the
Philippines will never accept its findings.
Relationships between Singapore and the Philippines have slowly got back to normal.
It is noteworthy that none of the "new evidence" that purported to show her innocence came to light beforehand. In the last week of her life, everyone seemed to jump on the bandwagon and yet she had been in prison for four years and on death row for two of those years. There was little diplomatic activity during that time and she seemed to have made very little effort to deny the allegations.
It does, however, seem a little odd that a
country such as the