Philippines President Aquino to appeal to China's Hu to commute death penalty for Filipino drug smugglers

MANILA: Philippines President Benigno Aquino III said on Wednesday that he will make a last ditch effort to save the lives of three Filipinos facing the death penalty for drug trafficking in China.

In an interview following a command conference he presided over with officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Aquino said he would speak with Chinese President Hu Jintao to appeal that the death penalty for the three be commuted to life sentences.

The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that the Supreme People's Court (SPC) in Beijing had upheld the lower courts' decisions meting out the death sentences on three Filipinos for drug trafficking.

The three Filipino nationals were identified as a 42-year-old male who was convicted for smuggling 4,113 grams of heroin on December 28, 2008, in Xiamen, a 32-year-old female who was convicted for smuggling 4,110 grams of heroin on December 24, 2008, in Xiamen, and a 38-year-old female who was convicted for smuggling 6,800 grams of heroin on May 24, 2008, in Shenzhen.

"We are trying to set up a phone conversation with (Chinese) President Hu Jintao again to make an appeal for the commutation (of the death sentences of these three Filipinos)," Aquino said.

He added that he would be meeting with Filipino Vice President Jejomar Binay "because I might send him as an emissary (to China) to stress how important it is for us to have the death penalty commuted to life imprisonment as we are doing here."

"Marami tayong nahuhuling of Chinese nationality [was] involved in drugs and we don't execute [him] because we have done away with the death penalty," Aquino said. "We’d like to see some reciprocity."

In December 2009, China executed a 53-year-old British man convicted of smuggling drugs into China despite international pressure. Akmal Shaikh was the first citizen of a European country to be executed in China in more than half a century.


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