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China upholds death sentence for 3 Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government said Tuesday that China had upheld death sentences for three Filipinos convicted of drug trafficking, and the mother of one of them appealed to the president to help her “victimized” daughter.

The foreign affairs department said it received information on Friday that the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing had reviewed and rendered its decision on five cases of Filipinos sentenced to death by courts in Fujian and Guandong provinces. The court gave two-year reprieves for two of the Filipinos — such reprieves are usually commuted to life in prison — but upheld the death sentences by lethal injection for the three others.

The department said it was disappointed and saddened by the decision and continued to seek lesser sentences for the two women aged 32 and 38 and a 42-year-old man.

Edith Ordinario, the mother of one of the convicted women — 32-year-old Sally Ordinario-Villanueva — tearfully appealed on ABS-CBN television to President Benigno Aquino Jr. to “help my daughter who was just victimized by a drug syndicate.”

Villanueva, a mother of two, was convicted of smuggling more than four kilograms of heroin to Xiamen on Dec. 24, 2008.

Ordinario said her daughter went to China thinking she had got a job as a cell phone dealer, and was given a bag by her recruiter in the Philippines to give to the boss when she arrived there. The bag turned out to have drugs hidden inside, she added.

She said the foreign affairs department had told her that her daughter was scheduled to be executed on Monday.

“As ordered by our president, our engagement with the Chinese authorities continues,” said Foreign Undersecretary Esteban Conejos on television.

Smuggling at least 50 grams of heroin or other drugs is punishable by death in China. The Philippines has no death penalty.

Under Chinese law, a death verdict may be commuted to life imprisonment if the prisoner displays good behavior in jail.

The foreign affairs department warned citizens against carrying luggage for strangers and agreeing to carry items for individuals befriended through the Internet.

Corruption among law enforcers and officials and vast stretches of unpatrolled coastline make the Philippines an attractive narcotics source and transshipment point.

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