Vice President to appeal drug mule’s death sentence-A A +A
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
MANILA -- Vice President Jejomar Binay will fly to China to appeal the death sentence on a Filipino who was convicted of drug trafficking.
The Foreign Affairs department made the announcement Wednesday despite earlier pronouncements from Malacañang that it has exhausted all efforts to commute the Filipino drug mule's death sentence.
But Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez told Sun.Star in a text message that the schedule for Binay to hand-carry the President's letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao is being worked out.
Hernandez did not confirm if the letter is similar to what President Benigno Aquino III earlier sent to Jintao that sought the commutation of the Filipino national's death penalty to life imprisonment.
DFA confirmed Wednesday that a 35-year-old Filipino was convicted for smuggling 1.495 kilos of heroin in Guangxi, a mountainous Chinese province bordering Vietnam.
He was apprehended last September 13, 2008 at the Guilin International Airport upon arrival from Malaysia after authorities found heroin in his possession.
On November 28, the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing affirmed a lower’s court’s decision to impose the death penalty on him.
"We have exhausted all legal efforts but the sentence would still be carried out on December 8," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, adding the Chinese court remains firm in its decision.
Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III has sent a letter of appeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao requesting commutation of the death penalty to life imprisonment.
He added that Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario also made representations with the Chinese Ambassador to convey the appeal of the Philippine government for a mitigated sentence.
Similarly, former Philippine Ambassador to China Francisco Benedicto conveyed the government's appeal to a top official of the Chinese Supreme People’s Court (SPC).
But all efforts were in vain.
Despite the sentence, Lacierda believed that the relations between China and the Philippines will not be affected.
“We recognize the decision of the judicial authorities in China. It was made based on the evidence that the Filipino national was carrying (1.495) kilos of heroin and, therefore, based on their law, it was subject to the death penalty. Again, it was done in compliance with their legal processes, we respect that, and I believe that in the same manner that the three Filipinos were previously been executed this should not cause a hiccup in Filipino-Chinese relations,” he said.
This is the last death penalty conviction, without reprieve, involving drug trafficking in China’s highest court. Of the six convicts who were sentenced to death last March, only three -- Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, and Elizabeth Batain -- were executed.
The DFA said the family of the Filipino national has already been informed of the SPC's decision. They will be flown to China to visit and see their loved one.
For their part, members of the convict's family said they were devastated by these developments.
"It is a very difficult time for us and we are trying our best, through prayers, to cope with the situation. We urge our countrymen to pray with our family," the DFA said in a statement, quoting the family members.
They also asked the media to refrain from contacting any of them.
Meanwhile, the government reiterated its appeal to all Filipinos to refuse to act as drug couriers by drug syndicates.
“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,” the DFA said.
The agency also appealed to the media to continue helping the government in its campaign against drug trafficking. (Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/AMN/Sunnex)