Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fate of Pinoys on China death row lies with court

The Philippines may have boycotted the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in deference to China’s protests, but Beijing maintains the fate of five Filipinos on death row lies solely with its Supreme Court.

Chinese Ambassador to Manila Liu Jianchao, however, assured the Philippine government on Wednesday that China’s high court is seriously re-examining the death penalty imposed on the Filipinos after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

On Dec. 10, China and its 18 allies including the Philippines declined to attend the awards ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize given to Chinese dissident Liu Xiabo, following pressure from the Chinese government.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier said the move was aimed at convincing Beijing to reduce the death sentence against the five Filipinos to life imprisonment.

An official of the Department of Foreign Affairs who requested anonymity said the Aquino administration would like China to recognize the gesture as “an act of goodwill."

“But with respect to this decision, I don't see any linkage to the plight of the Filipinos facing death penalty in China," Liu said in a press briefing at his Makati City residence.

“The Supreme Court of China will examine the cases very, very carefully. Everything will be done by the jurisprudence of China's legal system in strict compliance of the law," the ambassador explained. 

Of nearly 200 overseas Filipinos facing the death penalty in various countries, 73 convicted of drug trafficking are in China, according to the DFA. Those five in China have been convicted with finality.

China earlier protested the Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiabo, which Beijing felt was Western pressure to release the dissident and tantamount to interference in its political affairs.

“We don’t welcome such pressure but China remains open to dialogue on human rights on the basis of equality and mutual respect," said Ambassador Liu.

China's definition of democracy ensures that “everyone has the right to be different and to make its own decision as a nation," he said.

“Democracy is not just one voice, but many voices," the ambassador added. — With Jerrie Abella/VS, GMANews.TV

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