Manila to respect Beijing's drug laws

10:20, January 12, 2010      

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Country won't seek reprieve for smugglers sentenced to death

The Philippines will not intercede on behalf of any of its citizens who have been sentenced to death in China for smuggling drugs, a spokesperson for the country's top anti-narcotics body told China Daily Monday.

"They violated the law in China, so we'll follow the Chinese law," Carreon Berrict, a spokesperson for the Philippines' Drug Enforcement Agency said, indicating that it would not follow in the footsteps of the British government, which had sought clemency for Akmal Shaikh, a UK national executed last month in Urumqi for carrying over 4 kg of heroin into the country via Tajikistan.

Berrict was responding to news reports over the weekend which said 195 Filipinos were currently in Chinese jails on charges of drug smuggling.

Of these, seven have been sentenced to death without reprieve, while 59 others were facing death with a two-year reprieve. All the 195 Filipinos were detained last year, Berrict said.

Fifty-three of the 66 Filipinos on death row were women, the Philippines' Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs, Esteban Conejos, said.

All the 66 Filipino nationals were caught trying to smuggle in between 500 and 4,000 g of heroin, he said. As per Chinese law, smuggling more than 50 g is punishable by death.

According to the official, 30 other Filipinos have been sentenced to life terms in China, 44 penalized with a fixed term of 15 years' imprisonment, and 55 cases were still pending.

Conejos made it clear that "the (Philippine) government will not intervene in such cases", adding they were taking seriously the issue of China's execution of Akmal Shaikh.

Despite 27 appeals made by UK ministers - including a personal plea for clemency from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown - China defended its judgment and put to death Shaikh using lethal injection on December 29.

"It demonstrates the strong resolve of China against drugs. We have to take this seriously," Conejos told a press briefing. "We are committed to joining hands with the Chinese government to address the problem."

The official also thanked Beijing for showing "remarkable forbearance and accommodation" toward the Filipinos slapped with drug smuggling charges.

The website of the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation said Friday that the Philippine government expressed its commitment because it was alarmed by the execution of Shaikh.

The Chinese embassy in Manila told China Daily that the local government had made no mention of the Filipinos' cases to it.

Liang Shuying, a professor of international law at the Beijing-based China University of Political Science and Law, said the flood of media reports regarding Shaikh's case have led readers to believe, falsely, that Beijing had stepped up execution of foreign drug smugglers.

"China has been consistent in respecting its laws. The sentence of a drug smuggler depends on the amount he carries and how many times he has violated the law," she pointed out.

China is also cautious when handling cases of non-Chinese citizens, Liang said.

"The relevant embassies or consulates will be notified of the cases. These cases are submitted to an intermediate court or above, and it will only be judged by people who are familiar with this field," she added.

The Philippine Embassy in China did not give any details of the case when contacted. "The information is still private," said an unnamed embassy official.

An official surnamed Xu at the Information Office of the Supreme People's Court told China Daily Monday they were unaware of such cases.

Reports in Chinese media about Filipino drug smugglers have not been uncommon over the past year. In two cases, reported in Fujian in July and Macao in March, heroin smuggled into the country surpassed 1 kg in each case.

Filipinos seeking employment abroad have provided drug syndicates with ingenious ways of transporting illegal drugs overseas, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The Filipino Foreign Ministry has put the number of its citizens in foreign jails for drug smuggling at about 500.

Wang Jingqiong contributed to the story

Source:China Daily
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