PH to yield 2 diplomats in Cebu killings to China | Global News

PH to yield 2 diplomats in Cebu killings to China

2 suspects have immunity, says DFA

THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said two Chinese diplomats being held over a gun attack that killed two colleagues and wounded the Chinese consul general in Cebu City on Wednesday had immunity and would be sent back to China.

China’s consul general in Cebu City, Song Rong Hua, was wounded, and two of his staff members—Deputy Consul Sun Shan and finance officer Hui Li—were shot dead during the lunchtime attack in a private room of a restaurant in Cebu City, according to police.


Police detained a husband and wife who were at the lunch—Li Qing Ling, 60, and Consul Gou Jing—who, according to DFA spokesperson Charles Jose, were accredited diplomats.


“They are diplomats accredited to the Philippines so they enjoy diplomatic immunity,” Jose told reporters.

“Custody will be given to the Chinese side and they will undergo the legal process in China,” Jose said.

He said China had already invoked diplomatic immunity as its right under the United Nations’ Vienna Convention.

The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, signed by both the Philippines and China, and the 2009 consular agreement between the two countries put diplomats outside the criminal jurisdiction of their host states.

Li and Gou are in police custody in Cebu City on a request from the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

“If we are going to strictly follow the Vienna Convention, [the suspects] cannot be detained. But the Chinese Embassy requested that they remain in the Philippine authorities’ custody,” Jose said.


Chinese security team

He said the Chinese Embassy in Manila and the Chinese consulate in Cebu were waiting for the arrival of a security team from Beijing to take custody of Li and Gou.

“As soon as their security team from Beijing arrives here we will turn over the custody to the Chinese side,” Jose said.

He said the two would undergo legal process in China and the Philippines respected the couple’s right not to give any statement to Philippine police.

“That’s the essence of having diplomatic immunity,” Jose said.

Asked if the Chinese government had given the Philippines assurance that the suspects would not be allowed to get away with the crime, Jose replied: “I am sure that the Chinese will do it.”

China imposes the death penalty, while the Philippines does not.

Malacañang said, however, that the Philippine National Police was investigating Li and Gou, as required under Philippine laws.

Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said all legal processes were being followed although the Chinese couple had diplomatic immunity.

Jose said the DFA recommended the police investigation.

“We still need to continue the investigation because the Chinese authorities cannot do their own here,” Jose said, explaining that any case to be pursued in China would be based on findings by the Philippine National Police.

Jose said the shooting in Cebu was the first case of diplomats getting involved in a serious crime in the Philippines.

“I was surprised that this tragic thing happened,” he said.

“The shooting was an extreme act of a relative of a staff of the consulate,” he said.

China’s foreign ministry said it was investigating what had happened. Spokesperson Hua Chunying said she had no details to provide.

“We are deeply distressed that this kind of incident has taken place. The relevant situation and reasons are in the process of being investigated and understood further,” Hua told a daily press briefing in Beijing.


Staff at the upmarket Lighthouse Restaurant on General Maxilom Avenue in Cebu City earlier told journalists a group of nine people had gathered to celebrate the birthday of a Chinese consulate staff member, Jong Song Hua.

They said the group had ordered a banquet, but no alcohol, and loud shouting could be heard before the shots were fired.

Aside from the diners, there were no witnesses because the shootings occurred in the private room.

Video footage from the restaurant’s security camera showed Li first fired at Song and his deputy, Sun. Hui ran outside the room but Li followed and shot her

Li then put the gun down on the table and it was picked up by Gou, who was shown carrying the pistol and walking out of the restaurant.

Police said they recovered a semiautomatic .45 cal. Colt Defender pistol, three spent cases, and three slugs from the scene.

Chief Supt. Prudencio “Tom” Bañas, Central Visayas police director, admitted on Wednesday the first officers on the scene initially let all the surviving diners go, then arrested Li and Gou a short time later at the Chinese consular office in Cebu Business Park without resistance.

At the police station on Wednesday night, Li and Gou were photographed sitting apparently very calmly talking to a lawyer.

Bañas said Thursday both of the suspects had claimed they could not speak English, making it impossible to determine why the attack occurred.

“We don’t have a motive. We can’t talk to them. When we talk to them, they say ‘no speak English,” Bañas said.

He said Cebu authorities would turn over Li and Gou to the Chinese security team, which was expected to arrive yesterday afternoon.

He said it would be up to the Chinese consulate office to decide what to do with the bodies of Sun and Hui, which were in a funeral parlor in Cebu City.

The consulate office was temporarily closed down. A notice posted on the door said business would resume on Oct. 26.

Rey Lawas, a police spokesperson in Cebu City, said investigators believed the shooting could be the result of a personal grudge over financial matters between Li and Sun or Hui, the woman finance officer.

“They have been at odds for a long time over personal finances,” Lawas said, adding the fight “was purely personal.”

Sun was shot in the neck and Hui in the head. They died later in separate hospitals.

A senior police officer said investigators were looking into how Li, Gou’s 60-year-old husband, had acquired a Colt Defender, a highly reliable concealed-carry pistol with low-mount night sights.

“In Cebu, it’s easy to procure a gun because of a large cottage industry for homemade guns,” said the officer, who asked not to be identified.

‘Twin’ pistol

Police investigation showed the Colt Defender had a “twin” in Metro Manila.

Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said a check at the Firearms and Explosives Office showed that the Cebu Colt Defender and the Manila pistol had the same serial numbers—126238.

“Our investigators are checking these two guns. What we can say now is we have two guns with the same serial number,” Mayor said.

The Manila pistol is registered to  Theodore Calaveras of Valenzuela City.

Calaveras claimed that he sold his pistol to a certain Mago, from whom Valenzuela City police recovered the gun on Wednesday night, Mayor said.

The license for the firearm had already expired, Mayor said.

He said investigators were trying to determine which pistol carried the original serial number.

The National Bureau of Investigation stepped into the investigation Thursday for “reportorial purposes,” said Ricardo Diaz, the agency’s Central Visayas director.

Diaz said NBI Director Virgilio Mendez ordered the regional office to make a report for submission to the Department of Justice and to President Aquino.

“We have to establish what really transpired here, not for purposes of prosecution because they (the Chinese diplomats) are immune from criminal prosecution, but for purposes of establishing what really transpired,” Diaz said.

The NBI had not determined the motive for the shooting, he said.

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“The motive is deeper than what transpired in the crime scene. It would need interviews with people inside the [private room of the restaurant], but they all enjoy immunity so we cannot interview them,” Diaz said.

But the NBI could interview secondary witnesses like people in the vicinity of the restaurant when the shooting happened, he said.

“If we need to get our Chinese-speaking agents in Manila then we will,” he said. With reports from Jerry E. Esplanada and Julie M. Aurelio in Manila, AFP, AP

TAGS: Cebu shooting, Department of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic immunity, Features, Global Nation, Hui Li, Sun Shan

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