(Updated 7:58 p.m.) Five Filipinos may be executed in China this month over drug-related offenses, a party-list lawmaker said on Wednesday citing information from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The five — four women and a man — were recently sentenced to death without reprieve, according to Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello at a press briefing.
He said he got the information from DFA undersecretary for migrant workers Esteban Conejos during the hearing of the House committee on overseas Filipino workers affairs, which he chairs.
Conejos did not provide the names of the accused but said they were used as drug mules by international drug syndicates. He said two of the five cases have already been brought before the higher court of Beijing.
Bello refused to give details of the execution, which he said could happen in two to three weeks, saying he does not want to alarm people.
The DFA, in a statement issued on the same day, said the majority of the 302 Filipinos facing drug-related cases in Asia are in China (205 cases), followed by Hong Kong (26) and Malaysia (17). It said 221 of these cases involve women.
It noted that most of the Filipinos caught were lured to act as “drug mules" by international drug syndicates.
In China, drug trafficking of 50 grams or more of illegal drugs is punishable by 15 years in prison, life imprisonment or death. In Muslim countries, drug trafficking is punishable by death, according to Shariah law.
A Filipino lawmaker, Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson, is currently detained in Hong Kong after he was arrested at an airport there for allegedly carrying cocaine and prescription drug Valium.
In an interview, AGHAM party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones said the government might save the Filipinos through the documents that will be presented by the DFA about the members of the syndicate behind the illegal drug operations in China.
He said two members of the drug syndicate were arrested in the country.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs is in a hurry to save the lives of these five Filipinos by presenting documents proving that they are just victims. The two arrested suspected members of the international drug syndicates will be presented there," said Palmones.
The DFA, for its part, reiterated its warning to Filipinos traveling overseas against possession or trafficking of illegal drugs.
“We warn our countrymen from carrying drugs when traveling overseas and especially not to accept packages, which they suspect contain drugs, and also to be wary of the modus operandi being used by drug-trafficking syndicates. If they are caught, they will face very dire circumstances," Conejos said.
Among the drug-related cases in China, five have been meted the death penalty without reprieve, and 70 with death penalty with two-year reprieve. There are 35 cases given life imprisonment sentences, 68 with fixed-term imprisonment, and 27 pending cases.
Palmones, meanwhile, expressed fear that the cases of five Filipinos may be affected by the bloody hostage-taking incident in Manila that claimed the lives of eight tourists from Hong Kong.
But Conejos, at a Senate hearing, said he is sure the appeal of five Filipinos will not be affected by the hostage-taking.
“I'm sure that both countries will look at cases separately and will decide on the basis of the good relations that we have with China," Conejos said after attending a Senate hearing on human trafficking on Wednesday.- with Jerrie Abella/KBK, GMANews.TV
Reposted From Jerrie Abella Of GMA News.TV