[GRIEVING FAMILY Somewhere along this dark alley lives the grieving family of the Filipino woman who was executed on Wednesday last week in China. Nathaniel R. Melican]

MANILA, July 8, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Nathaniel R. Melican, Tarra Quismundo - From the main thoroughfare in Barangay (village) Sipac-Almacen in Navotas City, Nemesio L. Angeles Street is split by dark alleys that show no signs out of the ordinary.

People went about their usual ways along the street, which ends at a seawall overlooking Manila Bay. Women sold snacks from balconies, men were repairing tricycles, while teenagers played basketball at a covered court nearby.

Music blared out from a garage, with songs usually heard on Sundays on the radio, including John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” The Beatles’ “Let it Be,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” The last one seemed to have set the tone, as the house of the 35-year-old Filipino woman on China’s death row was eerily quiet.

The woman was executed Wednesday morning, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced.

No one answered the door. Neighbors, who were killing time on the main street, clammed up when asked about the issue.

Where is her house? “We don’t know,” a woman replied. A man was asked if he was a neighbor and if he knew the Filipino woman. “I’m from the other street,” he said.


Eventually, after some prodding, a few talked but asked not to be indentified—like the doomed woman.

“They’re [her family] probably there, but they just don’t answer. They haven’t really opened up about the issue. Everyone here is ashamed to talk of it,” said a thickset man in a white shirt and brown shorts.

“Not really ashamed, but maybe we’re just shy to talk about it. We just don’t want to anger them when we speak. They really wanted to keep this private,” he continued.

He recalled that earlier on Wednesday, television crews interviewed a neighbor about the woman. “Her family got angry and said, ‘Why give interviews about it? Just please leave it at that.’”

The family has kept mostly to themselves in all the decades they have been living there.

Chocolates, secretive

“They’ve lived here for as long as we can remember. The [woman] grew up in that house and has been returning here ever since,” another man said. He noted that the woman had been to China 18 times and “already knows their (Chinese) language.”

“Call it secretive, but they did not really brag about the fact that she was there. But we just knew because they would give us chocolates as homecoming gifts,” he added.

He said the neighborhood was just as shocked to find out that the woman was arrested in China sometime in 2011. “They were really crying hard then when the news broke. And we were surprised that she was arrested, too.”

The issue died down immediately in the community, but when the DFA had announced that she was set to be executed this week, the unwanted attention was back on them.

“They went to great lengths to really keep the issue private,” a woman said. “The victim’s mother was somehow contacted by the media, but she put them off by giving the wrong address. Still, apparently, you found us, you found them.”

Even as the DFA confirmed the execution Wednesday morning, the house remained quiet. Cameramen and reporters kept on returning and calling out for someone to interview, but there was no reply. The neighbors refused interviews on-cam.

Request for privacy

“It is with profound sadness that we confirm that our fellow Filipino was executed in China this morning,” said DFA spokesma Raul Hernandez. He did not release further details in

PRIVATE GRIEF This hole in the wall leads to doomed Filipino woman’s home. Relatives have refused to talk to the media about the matter. The neighbors also chose to keep silent. Nathaniel R. Melican deference to the family’s request for privacy.

“We reassured her (woman’s mother) that the DFA will not divulge the identity of her daughter. But we cannot withhold from the public the fact of the execution. And we believe that she understood,” Hernandez said.

Malacañang extended “sympathies and condolences” to the family.

Two days before, the woman was allowed to be with her mother and son for 30 minutes at Zhejiang Detention Center in the city of Hangzhou in eastern China. She had one other child.

She was arrested at the international airport in Hangzhou in January 2011 for carrying more than 6 kilos of heroin. A male cousin was also caught carrying roughly the same quantity of the illegal drug.

The local court imposed the death penalty on both on March 16, but her cousin was given a two-year reprieve to reform and qualify for the commutation of sentence to life imprisonment.

Earlier, the DFA said evidence presented during the trial showed that the woman had led the drug-trafficking operation, bringing drugs into China 18 times from 2008 to the time of her arrest. Recruited by a Nigerian drug trafficker in 2007, the woman was known to have earned between $3,000 and $4,000 for each trip, it said.

The Philippine government provided the woman counsel throughout her trial and appeal, but that the “preponderance of evidence was so large,” the foreign office said.

An appellate court affirmed the lower court decision on Dec. 3, 2012. Subsequently, China’s Supreme People’s Court upheld the ruling on June 26 with finality.

President’s appeal

Hernandez said the woman met her fate Wednesday morning as China enforced the death penalty despite President Aquino’s appeal for a stay in the execution, citing humanitarian reasons.

Vice President Jejomar Binay had wanted to personally appeal to the Chinese government to spare the woman’s life, but the Chinese foreign ministry reportedly said it was “not a convenient time” to accommodate the official in Beijing.

The DFA said there were 213 drug-related cases involving Filipinos in China, of which 28 were death convictions but with reprieve of two years. Sixty-seven cases led to life sentences, 107 were commuted to light prison terms, while 10 are still pending in court.

Stay away from drug trade

Hernandez called on Filipinos to stay away from the international drug trade, which earlier cost the lives of Filipinos Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain. The three were executed in China in 2011 for drug trafficking despite appeals of the Philippine government.

“Drug trafficking is a criminal act in the Philippines and all over the world. The life of every Filipino is valuable and we pray that this is the last time that a tragedy like this befalls any of our countrymen,” Hernandez said.

The official earlier said the death penalty would likely be carried out through lethal injection but he did not confirm this in a press briefing late afternoon on Wednesday.

The President’s deputy spokesperson, Abigail Valte, appealed to the media “to allow the family their privacy at this difficult time.”

“We hope that this will serve as a continuing lesson to our citizens not to allow themselves to be victimized and to fall prey to these syndicates,” Valte said.

Hernandez said the repatriation of the woman’s remains was being arranged.

Her neighbors on Angeles Street were waiting for the body to be brought home, but it was the cremated remains that arrived Wednesday night.

“If they want to be private, then we will just let them be,” a woman resident said.-With a report from Michael Lim Ubac

China executes Pinay By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - China executed yesterday the fifth Filipino sentenced to death for drug smuggling, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

The 35-year-old Filipina was executed yesterday morning, the seventh day after the Philippine consulate general in Shanghai formally received notice on the implementation of the death sentence.

“It is with profound sadness that we confirm our fellow Filipino was executed in China (yesterday) morning. Arrangements for the repatriation of her remains are being undertaken. We hope you understand that we cannot provide other details in deference to the family’s request for privacy,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a press briefing.

Hernandez said the woman was put to death two days after she was visited by her family on Monday.

Through Hernandez, the DFA offered condolences to the family of the executed Filipina and pointed out that a lesson should be learned.

“The DFA expresses our deepest sympathies to the family of the Filipina as they mourn the loss of their loved one. We certainly do not want other Filipino families to go through the same experience and therefore we renew our call on our countrymen to avoid involvement with drug syndicates,” Hernandez said.

He emphasized that drug trafficking is a criminal act in the Philippines and all over the world.

“The life of every Filipino is valuable and we pray this is the last time a tragedy like this befalls any of our countrymen,” he added.

Malacañang also condoled with the family of the executed Filipina drug mule and said it should serve as a lesson to all Filipinos.

“We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We appeal to the media to allow the family their privacy at this difficult time. However unfortunate, we hope that this will serve as a continuing lesson to our citizens not to allow themselves to be victimized and to fall prey to these syndicates,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday.

Vice President Jejomar Binay also used his message of condolence to appeal to Filipinos to resist the temptation to serve as drug mules into China.

“It’s not worth it. You are gambling with your life here. There is no amount that is worth your life,” Binay said.

Binay added the family of the executed Filipina wanted her remains to be cremated.

He said the family also requested not to mention her execution and the exact time it was carried out so as not to call the attention of the public.

According to Binay, it was useless for him to go to China to personally appeal the case of the Filipina death convict.

Binay, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), admitted he could no longer do anything about it, saying he had been advised by Beijing that it was not the right time to visit.

“It means that first of all we have rule of law. Drugs are a serious offense here (in China). I said, if that were the case, I would lose my dignity and the dignity of my office. That is the message: Don’t come. We cannot do anything about it,” Binay said.

Lawmakers led by Senators Cynthia Villar and Juan Edgardo Angara also offered their sympathies and said the government should provide opportunities for OFWs “to ensure that these types of unfortunate situations no longer happen.”

Angara said the government should “analyze her (executed Filipina’s) situation and that of her family she left behind.”

A drug mule for 16 times

The STAR reported last Thursday the decision of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) of China upholding a lower court decision sentencing the Filipina drug mule to death this week.

The death convict was one of two Filipinos – the other her male cousin – arrested near Shanghai in January 2011 for carrying over 12 kilos of high-grade heroin stashed in their luggage.

The sentence was handed down by the Intermediate People’s Court in Hangzhou on March 16, 2012 and then appealed before the High People’s Court, which upheld the decision on Dec. 3, 2012.

After its review of the case, the SPC upheld the sentence last June 26.

Hernandez said the government had exerted all efforts and provided the Filipina death convict all legal assistance and ensured her legal rights were observed.

“The Philippine government made sustained representation and exhausted all legal remedies (to stay the execution),” he said

The Chinese court said the Filipina, who was detained at the Hangzhou detention center, had been doing this for 16 times since 2008, going back and forth from Dubai, Hong Kong and China.

The Filipina entered China as a tourist. In 2007, she was allegedly offered $1,000 to act as drug mule and later was offered $3,000 to $4,000 per trip.

The family of the Filipina, who arrived in Shanghai on Sunday, visited her at the detention center in Hangzhou on Monday at around 10 a.m.

The family also visited her male cousin, who was also convicted of drug smuggling but received a two-year reprieve on his death sentence. The family returned to Manila yesterday.

A letter of President Aquino was sent to Chinese President Xi Jinping to appeal the death sentence against the Filipina after she was found guilty of smuggling 6.198 kilos of heroin in China.

Under the Chinese criminal code, the introduction into China of 50 grams of heroin or any narcotic drug is punishable by death.

China first carried out on March 30, 2011 the death sentence on three Filipinos convicted of drug trafficking. Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain were executed by lethal injection.

A 35-year-old Filipino sentenced to death for drug trafficking was executed on Dec. 8, 2011 in China by lethal injection despite appeals from President Aquino for a commutation of sentence to life imprisonment.

The executed Filipino was convicted for smuggling 1.495 kilos of heroin to Guangxi, which was upheld by Supreme People’s Court (SPC) in Beijing.

He was arrested in September 2008 upon arrival at the Guilin International Airport from Malaysia.

A total of 213 other Filipinos are in Chinese jails on drug offenses, the DFA said.

Some 28 of them – apart from the woman executed yesterday – have already been sentenced to death but were granted two-year reprieves, the DFA said.

The latest execution comes amid already rocky relations between the two countries, soured by overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez, Mayen Jaymalin

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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