Prayers urged as Pinay drug mule set for execution

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipina convicted of drug smuggling in China could be executed today or tomorrow.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said Consul General Charles Jose of the Philippine consulate in Shanghai reported that the death sentence could be implemented “until July 3.”

The family of the Filipina, who arrived in Shanghai on Sunday, visited her at the detention center in Hangzhou at around 10 a.m. yesterday. Consulate officials, including Jose, and those from the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, accompanied them.

The family was also set to visit her male cousin, who was also convicted of drug smuggling, but received a two-year reprieve on his death sentence.

“The family was able to talk with our kababayan for 30 minutes and this afternoon they will proceed to the men’s prison to visit the cousin… They have not been informed about the date of execution yet,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the note verbale, which was received last June 27, stated that the execution would be carried out seven days from receipt of the diplomatic note.

Hernandez said they are still waiting for the response of the Chinese government to the letter of President Aquino appealing the execution. Aquino’s request was earlier sent through the Philippine embassy in Beijing as well as the Chinese embassy in Manila.

Vice President Jejomar, who was supposed to deliver Aquino’s letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, cancelled his planned trip to China on Sunday after the Chinese Ministry of Affairs declined to receive him.

“I don’t really want to speculate as to what kind of message they are sending to us by that decision,” Hernandez said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Thursday the decision of China’s high court upholding a lower court’s decision sentencing the 35-year-old Filipina to death after she was found guilty of smuggling 6.198 kilos of heroin to China.


Binay, despite the cancellation of his trip, said he is not giving up hope even as he appealed for prayers to save the Filipina from execution.

“Let us continue our prayers that the Chinese government will grant our request to defer her execution. The appeal of our President is to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment,” said Binay, who is also presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) concerns.

Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe and Loren Legarda also appealed for prayers to spare the life of the Filipina drug courier.

“Let us continue praying that she will be granted reprieve. We can only appeal to the Chinese government out of compassion,” Binay said, as she reiterated calls for vigilance against drug syndicates who recruit Filipinos.

Poe said she sympathizes with Filipinos victimized by international drug cartels.

“They are like are children or relatives who sometimes go astray. We cannot just say, ‘you’re on your own’. We can at least sympathize with them… without actually condoning or encouraging them. It’s a balance that we need to do,” she said.

Poe, who went to the Senate yesterday to file her pet measures, also joined her colleagues in calling for a massive education and awareness campaign to save potential victims.

She said Filipino travelers should be repeatedly warned against accepting and carrying packages that may contain drugs.

Legarda reiterated her call to exhaust all peaceful means to spare the life of the Filipina drug trafficker without compromising the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea.

Wrong signal

Meanwhile, Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Antonio Villar said the government should focus on helping other distressed OFWs rather than pleading for the life of a Filipina convicted of drug smuggling in China.

Villar told The STAR in a phone interview that while he commiserates with the convicted Filipina, the aborted plan of the Vice President to go to China to plead her case might send a wrong signal that the government is not determined in its campaign against illegal drugs.

“You see, some law enforcers risk their lives in going after those behind the illegal drug trade in the country and yet the government is going an extra mile to plead for the commutation of the death sentence of our fellow Filipino in China,” he said.

“With due respect to our President and our Vice President, their act of compassion is laudable, but what about the interest of millions of Filipinos over the interest of one convicted drug mule?” he added.

He said the number of times the convict had traveled to China to bring illegal drugs shows she is not innocent and could have earned a lot of money from the illegal trade.

Villar added that it is not the first drug-related conviction of a Filipino in China, which should have long been a wake-up call to those being duped to act as drug mules.

He said members of international drug syndicates are also emboldened to do their drug trade in the country because there is no death penalty.

“The law may be harsh but it is the law and those found guilty must suffer the consequences of their acts,” he said.

Appeal to Chinese gov’t

Migrante International also called on the Chinese government to spare the life of the Filipina drug mule.

“We believe that Filipinos on China death row are victims of larger drug syndicates who take advantage of the unawareness, vulnerability and desperation of our people. We are pained that they are meted the death penalty while the big true drug operators and syndicates go on with wild abandon,” Gary Martinez, Migrante International chairman, said in an open letter to the Chinese president.

Martinez said the Philippine government should instead be held accountable for failing to address the root cause of drug trafficking and other syndicates that prey on poor Filipino workers.

“Filipinos will always be subjected to these tragedies for as long as the government sticks to promoting a labor export policy unmindful of the welfare and protection of Filipinos abroad,” he said.

Migrante held a vigil to dramatize their group’s appeal yesterday. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Christina Mendez, Mayen Jaymalin, Eva Visperas











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