Filipino to be executed in China on Dec. 8

BEIJING (MindaNews / 1 Dec) – Despite several attempts made by the Philippine government to commute the sentences of Filipinos in the death rows in China, another Filipino is again expected to be executed on December 8 after the Beijing Supreme People’s Court has ruled with finality the decision of the lower court for capital punishment.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said they were informed by the High People’s Court of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in late November over the rule “on the carrying out of the death penalty to a Filipino national convicted of drug trafficking.”

An unnamed 35-year-old Filipino, who was convicted for smuggling 1.495 kilos of heroin in Guangxi, is expected to be executed through lethal injection.

“He was apprehended on 13 September 2008 at the Guilin International Airport, from Malaysia, after authorities found the heroin in his possession,” the DFA statement said.

China is believed to have the highest recorded rate of executions in the world. Amnesty International did not provide a precise figure of executions in China as Beijing keeps such figures secret, but said: “Only a fraction of death sentences and executions carried out in China are publicly reported.”

The execution on Thursday will be the fourth case of a Filipino meted out the death penalty in China this year alone. Last March, three Filipinos were also executed separately in China for smuggling drugs.

“This is the last death penalty conviction, without reprieve, which concerns drug trafficking in China’s highest court. Originally, there were six death penalty convictions without reprieves. Three of these convictions were eventually affirmed by China’s highest court, namely those of Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, and Elizabeth Batain. The penalties of the other two of the six convictions were lowered by the high court from death penalty without reprieve to death penalty with two-year reprieve,” the DFA said.

The Department of Justice said there are 164 Filipino citizens serving prison terms in Mainland China as of August, most of them for drug trafficking – 119 are women (most of them married with children) and 45 are men. Most of them are reportedly in prisons in China’s southern provinces.

“On the other hand, there are 109 Chinese nationals serving sentences in Philippine prisons,” the DOJ noted.

It is not clear, however, how many Filipinos are serving life sentences and in the death row in China. Calls made to the Philippine Embassy here were left unanswered.

The Philippine government claimed it has provided all legal assistance and made several appeals to lower the sentence, but it respects the Chinese law and the verdict of the Supreme People’s Court on the case.

“President Benigno S. Aquino III has sent a letter of appeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao requesting commutation of his death penalty to life imprisonment. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario has also made representations with the Chinese Ambassador to convey the appeal of the Philippine Government for a mitigated sentence for the Filipino national’s case,” the DFA said.

The DFA said the family of the unnamed Filipino has already been informed about the decision, and arrangements are being made for them to depart for China at the soonest possible time in order to visit and see their loved one.

“The Philippine Government itself has a strong anti-illegal drug policy, and is closely cooperating with law enforcement agencies in China and in other countries on efforts against drug trafficking,” the DFA said.

“We appeal to all Filipinos, especially OFWs, not to allow themselves to be victimized by international drug syndicates and to be extremely cautious when dealing with strangers in airports and other areas of transit. We would like to stress that vigilance is the first major step in combating the modus operandi of international drug traffickers. We urge all our citizens to be on alert at all times in order not to be victimized by drug syndicates,” it added.

On June this year, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued an advisory opinion on illegal drug couriers. The advisory, which was posted in the Philippine consulate in Guangzhou province, “seeks to explain to the public the issues surrounding the recruitment, arrest, detention and conviction in foreign countries of Filipinos who are caught transporting illegal drugs.” (Darwin Wally T. Wee / MindaNews)