Binay mercy trip to Beijing hangsBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay was still awaiting confirmation on Saturday of his scheduled trip to Beijing Sunday in an attempt to appeal to China to stay the execution of a Filipino drug mule.
Sources privy to Binay’s travel plans told the Inquirer that two aides supposed to join Binay on the trip had yet to be issued visas to enter China.
Sources who asked not to be identified said China seemed determined to carry out the death sentence and appeared not too keen to accommodate the Vice President and his team.
China’s Supreme People’s Court on June 26 upheld the death penalty on the Filipino woman arrested at the international airport in Hangzhou in January 2011 for trying to smuggle in more than six kilos of heroin. The Chinese court set the execution for “anytime” between June 27 and July 2.
Binay’s office had announced on Friday that the Vice President, who is also the presidential adviser on overseas Filipino concerns, would leave for Beijing on Sunday to personally communicate the Philippines’ request for the commutation of the death penalty on the 35-year-old Filipino woman.
President Aquino had instructed Binay to hand deliver his letter of appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Aquino’s letter cites humanitarian reasons for asking the Chinese government to defer the Filipino’s execution.
The woman, a mother of two, is known to reside in Metro Manila but no other details about her have been publicly released.
In March 2011, China executed Filipino drug convicts Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain despite similar appeals from the government. Binay had flown to China a month earlier to personally plead for the Filipinos’ lives.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had no updates on arrangements for the Filipino woman’s family to see her at the Hangzhou prison, where she has been jailed for more than two years now.
She was arrested with her 27-year-old cousin, who was also found to have more than six kilos of heroin in his possession. He was also sentenced to death but was given a two-year reprieve within which he may yet reduce his sentence to life imprisonment if he maintains good behavior, the DFA earlier said.
The woman was known to have been recruited by a Nigerian national as a drug courier in 2007. The DFA said Chinese authorities found evidence that she had carried illegal drugs into China 18 times between 2008 and 2011, earning $3,000 to $4,000 per successful trip.
There are 213 drug cases involving Filipino nationals in China, with 28 convicted to death but given two years to behave and seek commutation of their sentences to life imprisonment. Some 67 others are serving life sentences; 107 are in jail for various terms while 10 are still facing trial.