China Executes Filipino Man Despite Aquino Appeal

China, a country notorious for its practice of capital punishment, executed a Filipino man today. This comes at a time when relations between China and the Philippines are already tense due to conflicting claims in the South China Sea debate. An AP article gives an overview:

China, the world’s most prolific executioner, put a Filipino drug trafficker to death Thursday despite a clemency appeal from the Philippine president.

[…]Although China went ahead with the execution despite an appeal for clemency from President Benigno Aquino III on humanitarian grounds, Philippine government officials have said they respect China’s judicial system and the execution would not hurt bilateral relations. The abolished the in 2006.

Overlapping territorial claims over potentially gas-rich islands in the South China Sea have strained ties between the Philippines and China.

China refuses to say how many prisoners it puts to death each year, though Amnesty International estimates it is in the thousands, far above the number executed anywhere else in the world. The San Francisco-based human rights group Dui Hua Foundation estimated China executed 5,000 people in 2009.

An article from the Philippine Star provides further details about the unidentified drug trafficker’s last days and the record of Filipino drug traffickers being detained in China. This article puts emphasis on pleas coming from the Philippines for the death sentence to be reduced:

The Philippines had made repeated pleas for the death sentence to be commuted to life in prison, which Chinese authorities rejected.

The Chinese embassy in Manila said there was no response from the Chinese side on President Aquino’s letter to President Hu Jintao appealing the case of the drug mule.

The embassy said China already conveyed last week to the Philippines that the sentence is final and executory.

A piece on covers the frustration that many Filipinos are feeling towards the government, viewing this situation as another case where an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) has been abandoned:

“The labor export policy has brought about deaths of OFWs,” [Migrante International chairperson] Martinez said, “Even if we die abroad, they would not speak to protect our rights for fear of losing billions of dollars in remittances.”

[…]Gabriela, the country’s largest women group, said the blood is now on the hands of the Aquino administration, criticizing the government for its late response to assist OFWs in distress. “There were many instances that Aquino met China President Hu Jintao when he visited the country recently. But he sent Binay to appeal for the life of the Filipino on the last minute. No wonder that they were not able to do anything,” Nere Guerrero, a member of Gabriela’s National Council, said in a statement.

This was the fourth Filipino to be executed in China this year for drug related charges. An editorial in the Philippine Star mentions the need for the people and the government of the Philippines to learn from these executions:

The countries that are the largest sources of prohibited drugs are well known. Huge profits from the illegal drug trade have allowed traffickers to pay off those who are supposed to fight the drug menace. The money has also allowed the drug rings to enlist couriers around the world, including Filipinos. It may take a few more executions in China before Filipinos become sufficiently warned that drug trafficking can earn them the death penalty. In the meantime, the government must intensify its coordination with other countries to fight this menace at its roots.

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