The execution of a Filipina convicted of drug smuggling in China will likely push through on Tuesday after China rejected Vice President Jejomar Binay’s plan to fly to Beijing on Sunday to make a final appeal for her life.
Binay said he was advised on Saturday by the Chinese Foreign Ministry that “now would not be a convenient time” for him to visit Beijing.
“I wanted to go to China to personally appeal for compassion. I am sad however that China has chosen to take this position regarding this visit,” he said. “Given this development, I am left with no option but to cancel my trip to China. I ask for prayers for our compatriot and her family.”
Binay, the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers concerns, was scheduled to leave yesterday to personally deliver President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s letter of appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
While President Aquino respects the ruling of the Supreme People’s Court of China, Binay said his decision to make an ultimate appeal to the Chinese president is consistent with his commitment to assist and protect Filipino nationals abroad.
The unnamed Filipina was sentenced to death for smuggling 6.198 kilos of heroin in a Shanghai airport in January 2011. She and another Filipino were arrested for smuggling more than 12 kilograms (26 pounds) of heroin.
The Filipino man was also sentenced to death, but won a two year reprieve.
In 2011, Binay went to China to appeal for the stay of execution of drug trafficking convicts Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain. The three were eventually executed despite his appeal.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte described China’s rejection of Binay’s visit “unfortunate” but is not giving up hope for a reprieve.
“I will not agree with the assumption of the question that there is no hope…we have already sent the advance letter of the President that contained the appeal for commutation through the appropriate channels and what we can do now is to wait for a favorable response,” Valte said.
The case comes amid already rocky bilateral relations between the two countries, soured by overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.
About a tenth of the Philippines’ 100 million population work abroad, many of them under harsh conditions where drug traffickers sometimes exploit them into becoming drug mules.
Valte appealed to fellow Filipinos “to follow the law whenever they go abroad and not to allow themselves to be victimized by syndicates or any other persons”.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Manila was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.
WITH A REPORT FROM AFP