Three Filipinos who were convicted of drug trafficking in China have been executed, Vice President Jejomar Binay announced Wednesday.
"Malungkot na araw... Patay na po 'yung tatlong kababayan natin," Binay said in an interview over GMA News TV.
Earlier, Noel Novicio, consul of the Philippine post in Xiamen City, said convicted Filipinos Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain were brought to a “private place" where they will be executed after they were read their death sentence at 9:40 a.m.
“After promulgation, dinala sila sa isang pribadong lugar upang isakatuparan ang final na hatol," he said in an interview over GMA News TV.
The three Filipinos — Credo, 42; Batain, 38; and Villanueva, 32 — were originally scheduled to be executed last February 20 and 21. The executions were put on hold following the humanitarian visit to Beijing of Binay, who is also the presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns.
The Supreme People’s Court of China affirmed the death sentences on the three last February 11. Binay went to Beijing upon orders from President Benigno Aquino III on Feb. 18.
Ordinario-Villanueva was convicted for smuggling 4,110 grams of heroin on Dec. 24, 2008 into Xiamen, while Credo was convicted for smuggling 4,113 grams of heroin on Dec. 28, 2008 in the same city. Batain, meanwhile, was convicted for smuggling 6,800 grams of heroin on May 24, 2008, in Shenzhen.
Under the Chinese criminal code, smuggling of 50 grams of heroin or any narcotic drug into China is punishable by death.
Meeting with relatives
Hours before their scheduled execution, Villanueva and Credo met with their families in Xiamen, Philippine consul Noel Novicio said in an interview on dzBB radio.
He said Batain also met with her relatives between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. in Shenzhen before the promulgation of her sentence. The meetings were arranged with the help of two China-based Filipino priests, Novicio said.
Maylene Ordinario, Sally’s sister who is currently in China, said in a text message to her relatives in Quezon City that they were only given an hour to talk with the prisoners.
“Binigay na nila ang mga gamit ni Ate. Grabe, one hour lang talaga. Pababa na kami ng court. Wala sila awa," the text message read.
On Tuesday, Binay made a last-minute appeal to Chinese President Hu Jin Tao for the suspension of the execution after the Philippine authorities uncovered evidence that could "break wide open" the illegal drug trade between China and the Philippines.
Binay said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has taken into custody Mapet Cortez, also known as Tita Cacayan, whom convicted courier Villanueva had named in her sworn statement as the person who recruited her for a job in Xiamen and gave her "the empty suitcase" that later turned out to be lined with heroin.
"I appeal to the Chinese government to help us keep Villanueva and the two others alive to enable us to establish beyond any reasonable doubt whether at least one or two or all three of them are mere unwitting couriers, while the real principals are still at large in the Philippines," said Binay in the letter dated March 28. - VVP/YA, GMA News