Filipino drug traffickers executed by lethal injection in China

Posted on March 31, 2011

THREE FILIPINOS convicted of drug trafficking in China were executed by lethal injection yesterday, a situation the government said has strengthened its resolve to curb narcotics syndicates victimizing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Friends and neighbors of Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, one of three Filipino drug mules executed in China, pray in front of the house of Sally’s sister, Sol, in Manila as they await news of Sally’s execution. Chinese authorities executed three Filipino drug mules yesterday, triggering condemnation and despair for family members who shared their final moments. Photo taken March 30. -- AFP

The death sentence was carried out before midday on Ramon C. Credo, 42, and Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, 32, in the city of Xiamen, and on Elizabeth Batain, 38, in Shenzhen.

In a statement, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III said the government had exerted all efforts to have China commute the sentence, but to no avail.

"Consistent with the laws and values of our country, we pleaded with the Chinese government to commute their death sentences to life imprisonment. Unfortunately, the Chinese government did not agree, and we must respect their legal processes," he said.

Mr. Aquino further said the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been providing grief counseling to the families of the three victims.

The families will also be provided assistance for education and livelihood, he added.

Credo was convicted for smuggling 4,113 grams (g) of heroin and Villanueva for 4,110g of heroin, both in Xiamen; and Batain for 6,800g of heroin in Shenzhen.

Their families were allowed one last visit before the execution, according to a time line of events before and after the execution released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The remains of Credo and Villanueva were claimed by their families and Philippine Consulate officials, while arrangements on remains of Batain are still being made, the DFA said.

No impact on diplomatic ties

The incident, meanwhile, will not affect diplomatic ties between Manila and Beijing.

Asked if the death sentence will have a dent on bilateral relations, Ethan Y. Sun, deputy chief of political section and spokesman of the Chinese embassy in Manila, said in a text message: "I don’t think so."

Mr. Aquino expressed the same sentiment.

"I ask the public not to allow this situation to affect our historic friendship with the Chinese people," he said in the statement.

For Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, who was sent to China last month and obtained a temporary reprieve for the trio who was had been scheduled for execution in February, called for a nationwide effort against illegal drugs.

"We must all commit ourselves fully to the fight against drugs, and to take all necessary action to stop this menace from destroying more lives and families...," he said in a statement.

Mr. Aquino said in the case of Villanueva "we have identified the recruiter and filed charges before the Department of Justice. Operations are still ongoing to capture the rest of these drug traffickers."

The government, Mr. Aquino added, is also addressing the plight of OFWs.

"Our ultimate goal is to create a situation where people are not pressured to resort to these things, where they can find enough gainful employment in the Philippines."

The government had sent a final appeal on the eve of the execution through a letter of Mr. Binay to Chinese President Hu Jintao urging Beijing to spare the three who could have been instrumental in helping track drug smuggling syndicate.

Under China’s criminal code, the possession of at least 50 grams of heroin or any prohibited drug is punishable by death.

For its part, the Commission on Human Rights, in a statement, appealed to the Chinese government to "abide by the progressive norm of international law imposing an absolute obligation on states to prohibit capital punishment." -- Noemi M. Gonzales and Johanna Paola D. Poblete