Miracle & Hope for 3 Pinoys
MANILA, Philippines- Vice President Jejomar Binay once again appealed to the Chinese government to spare the lives of three Filipinos set to be executed by lethal injection in China this Wednesday for drug smuggling.
In a letter to Chinese President Hu Jin Tao dated March 28, Binay appealed for the suspension of the execution in light of the supposed discovery by Philippine authorities of evidence that could “break wide open” the drug trade between China and the Philippines.
Binay explained that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has taken into custody Mapet Cortez, also known as Tita Cacayan, whom Sally Villanueva — one of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on China’s death row, named in her sworn statement.
Villanueva said Cortez was the one who recruited her for a job in Xiamen and gave her “the empty suitcase.” She said she unknowingly and without an ounce of suspicion took the suitcase that later turned out was lined with heroin.
“I appeal to the Chinese government to help us keep Villanueva and the two others alive to enable us to establish beyond any reasonable doubt whether at least one or two or all three of them are mere unwitting couriers, while the real principals are still at large in the Philippines,” said Binay, who is also the presidential adviser on OFW concerns.
“It is my fervent hope that Your Excellency will see in this appeal a sincere effort on our part, who hold the highest regard for China and its criminal justice system, to make sure that the truly guilty are punished and those who merely happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and are defrauded or forced to commit crime by the real criminals are given a second chance, according to your own policy of combining leniency with rigidity in the implementation of your criminal laws,” he added.
Villanueva, 32, claimed in her statement she was not aware that the suitcase she was bringing to China in 2008 contained illegal drugs. She was convicted on Dec. 24, 2008 for smuggling 4,110 grams of heroin into Xiamen.
The two other OFWs on China’s death row are Ramon Credo, 42, who was convicted of smuggling 4,113 grams of heroin on Dec. 28, 2008, also in Xiamen; and Elizabeth Batain, 38, who was convicted of smuggling 6,800 grams of heroin on May 24, 2008, in Shenzhen.
Batain, Villanueva and Credo were supposed to be executed seprately on Feb. 20 and 21. China stayed the execution after Binay flew to Beijing and appealed for clemency on the part of Chinese authorities.
Earlier Tuesday, Philippine officials in China also submitted to President Hu letters from the families of Villanueva and Credo.
Philippine Embassy consul Noel Novicio said the letters from the families of Villanueva and Credo were through China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. – KBK/VS, GMA News