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China executes Filipino man despite Aquino appeal

By Alexa Olesen

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:04 a.m. HST, Dec 08, 2011

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

Hours before he was executed, the condemned man was allowed to meet briefly with two siblings and two cousins who traveled to south China's Guangxi province, Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay told reporters in Manila.

The man was then led to a courtroom where the sentence was read and whisked to the death chamber in Liuzhou, about two hours from the prison, where he was given a lethal injection, he said.

"The subject was very calm, but his family was crying," Binay said. "At 12:30 (p.m.) our countryman was executed."

The 35-year-old man has not been identified in either country. He was arrested in 2008 at Guilin International Airport while trying to smuggle 3.3 pounds  of heroin from Malaysia. Smuggling more than 1.76 ounces of heroin or other drugs is punishable by death in China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing that the case was handled in accordance with the law and that the countries had been in contact over it.

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 Philippines abolished the death penalty 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.

There was no immediate Chinese media coverage of the Filipino man's execution. While death penalty cases involving corrupt officials, terror suspects or violent criminals are routinely reported, many lower-profile cases go uncovered by the tightly controlled Chinese media.

On Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency published a lengthy report and photos of two convicted Chinese gang leaders who were executed in the southern megacity of Chongqing on Wednesday.

Xinhua said female gang boss Wang Ziqi forced at least 120 women into prostitution between 1994 and 2009 and oversaw a crime syndicate through her Bright Spot Tea House. She and one of her male associates, Gu Mingtao, were put to death, it said.

A Xinhua news photo showed the pair dressed in thickly padded pajamas, their hands cuffed, standing in a Chongqing court as officials announced that the Supreme People's Court had reviewed and upheld their death sentences.

In March, China executed three Filipino workers also convicted of smuggling heroin despite last-minute appeals and political concessions by Philippine leaders. The Philippine government said it was able to prove that a drug syndicate had taken advantage of the Filipinos.

The head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Jose Gutierrez Jr., said earlier that authorities were hunting for the recruiter of the executed drug mule, who is suspected to be a member of an African drug trafficking syndicate. He said the man convicted in China had previously engaged in drug trafficking and was paid $4,000 to $6,000 for every smuggling operation.

On the streets of the Philippine capital, reaction was mixed.

"On the one hand, if he really did it and is deserving of that punishment, then this is all right," said construction worker Edwin Cruzado. "But if a person is innocent, that is very sad."

He said that poverty is no excuse for a crime. "But their punishment in China is a bit harsh," Cruzado added.

The plight of millions of Filipino living overseas, most of them contractual workers, is an emotional issue in the country.

Foreign relations are anchored on a policy to ensure safety and welfare for workers, who often find themselves in conflict zones and countries with starkly different cultures. About 10 percent of the Philippines' 94 million people work abroad to escape widespread poverty and unemployment at home.


Associated Press writers Teresa Cerojano, Oliver Teves and Hrvoje Hranjski in Manila contributed to this report. 

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1local wrote:
Signs are publicly posted that drug trafficking is punishable by death - black and white. Trafficking and selling should be punishable by death worldwide...
on December 8,2011 | 05:33AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
I have no problems with this. Drugs are the primary bane on society. He chose to traffic drugs and he paid the price. One less criminal in the world.
on December 8,2011 | 05:54AM
Vivgie wrote:
China got it right. Too many bad people in this world and too expensive to run courts, law enforcers, and prisons. Drug traffickers, child rapists, embezzlers, spouse abusers, robbers, burglars, and all felons deserve death. They waste too much of everybody's money and time. Human kind is not an endangered species.
on December 8,2011 | 07:10AM
cojef wrote:
While many criticize Chinese criminal law system, the public rarely hear of how justice is conducted in Islamic countries, especially where Shiria law is accepted. The mere fact that limbs, fingers, and stonings are administered, crime occurs, despite the harsh justice systems. Poverty in many instances is the underlying causes or reasons for crime to occur, as there is a vast difference between the haves and the have nots. Could it be that laws were enacted to protect the rich????
on December 8,2011 | 07:58AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
...and the poor. Don't forget most crime victims are the POOR. Who do you think gets robbed, beaten up, or killed more -- rich or poor people? Who buys most of majority of illegal drugs -- rich or poor people? Laws protect everyone. It's the tax breaks that serve only the rich. Better buckle down and study kids...you don't want to be poor.
on December 8,2011 | 10:50AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Good job, China. Don't yield to pressure from other countries that want to coddle drug smugglers who ruin thousands of lives.
on December 8,2011 | 08:08AM
butinski wrote:
Hooray for China. We should adopt the same procedures.
on December 8,2011 | 08:38AM
MrMacadangdang wrote:
I agree, save us tax payers from having to pay for the medical and rehab costs of these addicts. I'm sorry that sounds really harsh, I do believe in people recovering but at the cost of decent working class people? NO THANKS
on December 8,2011 | 12:40PM
dashadow wrote:
Wonder if person executed had ties with Al Qaeda or Taliban.
on December 8,2011 | 09:55AM
MrMacadangdang wrote:
It's not a matter of RACE RELATIONS, this man would've stil been executed had he have been of CHINESE RACE. Being FILIPINO MYSELF, crime committed knows NO COLOR. Personally, I think the death penalty is a bit harsh for drug smuggling but then to each their own and the same goes with laws in other countries. You commit crimes in another country, odds are you'll be held to their court of law regardless of citizenship. The laws of execution with drug smuggling I'm sure didn't change with that criminal just because he's FILIPINO, it's a law period.
on December 8,2011 | 12:31PM
saveparadise wrote:
The Chinese approach to crime is commendable. No tolerance is the way to go.
on December 8,2011 | 01:58PM
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