Manila: Philippine President Benigno Aquino sent a letter to China’s President Xi Jinping asking for the commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment for a 35-year old Filipina who was arrested for drug trafficking in China in 2011, a senior official said.
“The letter of appeal was sent Thursday through the Philippine Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese Embassy in Manila,” said a statement from the office of Raul Hernandez, spokesman of the foreign affairs department.
Her family was informed about the decision of the Supreme People’s Court in China which affirmed on June 26, an earlier decision made by a lower court on her case.
In January 2011, she was arrested at an international airport for smuggling 6.198 kilos of heroin in her luggage. Another Filipina was also arrested for carrying the same amount of heroin, said the statement, adding that their male companion was also arrested for carrying 6.171 kilos of heroin in his own luggage. The names of the three were not released.
Arrangements are now being made for her family to depart for China at the soonest possible time, said the statement, adding that her family has “requested that their privacy be respected during this very difficult time”.
It is not known if Aquino’s letter will make China temporarily defer the implementation of the death sentence, which was scheduled on June 27, and on July 2.
The Philippine government provided all necessary and possible legal assistance for her, said the statement, adding that her legal rights were observed and her welfare protected from the time she was arrested and while she was undergoing trial.
The male companion of the 35-year old woman was given a two year reprieve, said the statement, but did not mention the fate of the other Filipina who was also arrested in 2011.
As of June this year, there are 213 Filipinos involved in drug-related cases in China. Twenty-eight cases were sentenced to death, two of them with a two-year reprieve; 67 others were sentenced to life imprisonment; 107 others to term imprisonment; and 10 more are still on trial, according to labour data.