China to execute Filipino Dec. 8
China’s Supreme People Court (SPC) has affirmed the drug trafficking conviction and death sentence on a Filipino, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
The DFA said the execution of the 35-year-old man, who it did not identify, has been scheduled for December 8, even as President Benigno Aquino III has appealed to Chinese President Hu Jintao to commute the death sentence to life in prison.
The DFA “conveys its sadness at this turn of events,” said Raul Hernandez, the DFA spokesperson.
“The family of the Filipino national has been informed of the SPC 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,” he said.
Arrested in 2008
The Filipino was arrested in September 2008 while allegedly trying to smuggle 1.5 kilograms of heroin into Guangxi province in southern China from Malaysia.
“He was apprehended on Sept. 13, 2008, at the Guilin International Airport upon arrival from Malaysia. Airport authorities found the heroin in his possession,” said the DFA.
He was convicted by the High People’s Court of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which was confirmed by the China’s highest court in late November.
According to Hernandez, Mr. Aquino’s letter to Hu requested the commutation of the convict’s death penalty to life imprisonment. It was delivered by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to the Chinese ambassador Wednesday.
Del Rosario said he had met with the convict’s family Wednesday. The family requested that “his name and his origin not be released by the DFA under any circumstances,” he said.
“I am afraid we have to respect their request,” Del Rosario said.
The office of Vice President Jejomar Binay announced Wednesday that Binay would be handcarrying Mr. Aquino’s letter to Hu and that the DFA was making arrangements for his trip to Beijing “at the earliest time possible.”
Last February, Binay made a similar trip to Beijing and successfully obtained the postponement of execution of three convicted drug mules—Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain. However, the death sentence on the three was carried out about a month later.
Hernandez said Philippine diplomatic representatives in China had done everything they could, and were still seeking, to have the Filipino’s sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Philippine diplomats provided “all necessary and possible assistance” to the convict during his detention and trial, he said.
Former Philippine Ambassador to China Francisco Benedicto “also made representations with a top official of the SPC to convey the Philippine government’s appeal to commute the death sentence without reprieve to life imprisonment.” (Ambassador-designate to China Domingo Lee is still awaiting confirmation by the congressional Commission on Appointments.)
Hernandez noted that the case of the Filipino was the last death penalty conviction without reprieve relating to drug trafficking in China’s highest court.
All efforts exhausted
There were originally six death penalty convictions without reprieve involving Filipinos. Three—Credo, Villanueva and Batain—were eventually affirmed by the court. Two were lowered from the death penalty without reprieve to death penalty with two-year reprieves, he said.
Malacañang yesterday said it had “exhausted all legal efforts” to save the convicted Filipino scheduled for execution on December 8.
“We recognize the decision of the judicial authorities in China. It was made based on the evidence that the Filipino was carrying 1.5 kg of heroin, and therefore, based on their law, it was subject to death penalty,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda said he did not believe ties between the two countries would be affected as “this is not the first time an execution happened, we experienced it before.” With Christine Avendaño
Originally posted at 12:55 pm | Wednesday, November 30, 2011
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