DOHA: News of a Filipino sentenced to death and two compatriots to life in jail by a Qatari court for espionage and economic sabotage has drawn mixed reaction, many of which found it preposterous.
The Filipinos were found guilty of passing military and economic secrets on to the Philippine government in exchange for money.
“What is the purpose of knowing how Qatar operates and maintains its military? We can learn from our allies like the US which has just signed a defence pact with the Philippines,” said a Filipino expatriate.
Another, still in utter disbelief, said, “The Philippine government cannot afford to pay millions just for a piece of information. We don’t have issues with Qatar and both countries have cordial relations.”
Social media was also abuzz with reactions from netizens, some of whom did not agree with the court verdict.
“I think the death penalty as a punishment is not fair, considering the offence,” said a reaction on Facebook.
Another Facebook user had similar views. “The stolen information was of no value. They were just for reference, not for intelligence purpose.”
“This could be a case of corruption cover-up and these three are just so unfortunate to be the fall guys. There is really no spying case,” he posted.
Others believe the trio’s fight is not yet over as the case has been referred to the Court of Appeals.
However, the Philippine government should do something as it would reflect negatively on the image of the country because the nationality of the trio has been revealed in the media, they said.
“There is such thing as trial by publicity and this could affect the decision of the Court of Appeals,” a Filipino expat said.
He said it could also tarnish the image of Filipino workers in Qatar and beyond.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs organised a press conference in Manila to discuss the case.
Spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippine embassy in Doha would continue to extend assistance to the trio as long as necessary.