Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pinoy on China death row hopes for commutation of sentence

KIDAPAWAN CITY — An overseas Filipino worker jailed in China for drug trafficking has expressed the hope that his death sentence would be commuted to a 15-year jail term.

In a letter to Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, Richard Bianan — who has been incarcerated since 2008 — said the Chinese court might commute his death sentence and lower his years in detention for “showing good behavior."

Bianan also said he was glad upon learning that the Cotabato government is making inquiries into his case. “Upon hearing the news, I and other Filipinos [here] rejoiced, for we see a glittering hope to our hopeless situation here."

Bianan’s letter reached the congresswoman’s office on May 12. 

Attached in Bianan’s letter were some documents from Pu Tian City Men’s Prison Administration Foreign Group Unit, including the criminal order from the Higher Peoples’ Court of Fujian Province of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

The Fujian Province court found Bianan guilty of drug smuggling. 

Heroin capsules

In July 2008, authorities extracted from Bianan’s body 91 oval capsules filled with heroin. The amount of the prohibited drug found on Bianan weighed 1,009.3 grams.

The court said the quantity of drug smuggled to China was “so large" that a death penalty had to be imposed. However, Bianan showed good behavior inside his prison cell, allowing the court to grant him a two-year reprieve.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr., in a letter to Catamco dated May 5, said the death sentence with two-year reprieve imposed on Bianan means that his sentence has been suspended for two years.

Bianan’s sentence could then be commuted to life imprisonment should he continue showing good behavior inside the prison cell.

Conejos said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already made necessary representations with Chinese authorities regarding Bianan’s request to lower his sentence to fixed-term imprisonment, instead of life imprisonment.

“The DFA is still awaiting the feedback of the Chinese authorities on the matter. The Philippine Consulate opined that since the two-year suspension period of his sentence has yet to expire, the Chinese authorities might not be able to give concrete responses to the representations," Conejos said.

“Mr. Bianan is reminded to do his part in making the government’s representations feasible by showing good behavior, avoiding committing another offense in prison, and getting along well with jail guards and inmates while serving his sentence," he added. — AY/JE/VS, GMA News

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