China postpones execution of three Filipinos
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China postpones execution of three Filipinos

In a widely-applauded decision, China on Friday announced the postponement of the execution of three Filipino nationals found guilty by Chinese courts of drug trafficking.

The decision came hours after Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay arrived in Beijing and met with a number of Chinese political and judicial officials to make a last ditch appeal on behalf of Ramon Credo, Sally Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain.

A joint statement released on Friday night by China and the Philippines said:

The Vice President [Binay] met with the following officials and members of their staff: H.E. Mr. Dai Bingguo, State Councillor, H.E. Mr. Wang Shengjun, President of the Supreme People’s Court and H.E. Mr. Zhang Zhijun, Executive Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues concerning bilateral relations, including judicial cooperation. The two sides expressed the determination to work together and make joint efforts in further strengthening the relationship of strategic cooperation.

The Chinese side briefed the Vice President on the final verdict of the Supreme People’s Court on the three (3) Filipinos sentenced to death for drug trafficking and the decision of the SPC to postpone the execution within the scope of Chinese law.

The Philippine side stated that it fully respects China’s law and the verdict of the SPC, and expressed its sincere appreciation to China for the decision of the SPC to postpone the execution within the scope of Chinese law.

The Philippines and China are determined to work together in the fight against transnational crimes, including drug trafficking.

China’s decision is doubly-significant for the Philippines and the world.

This is a major political victory for Vice President Binay and President Benigno Aquino III that they successfully fought for the fundamental right to life of three Filipino nationals who, if found guilty in the Philippines, would never face the death penalty. Some even went to say that this cements Binay’s standing as the most viable presidential candidate in the next elections in 2016.

China meanwhile showed its humanitarian and compassionate side to the world by what a Manila-based media outlet says is arguably the first such suspension by Chinese authorities of an execution ordered by a Chinese court.

GMA News reports that:

Diplomatic sources say the SPC’s decision to postpone the three executions could be the first such case for a death sentence without reprieve in China.

Others however express skepticism and raise questions about the hidden quid-pro-quo that led to China’s suspension of the death penalty for the three Filipino nationals.

Let there be no doubt about the Philippines’ and Filipinos’ stand against drug trafficking. Filipinos also want drug traffickers to be punished. And if the three Filipinos are truly guilty, we would not oppose the Chinese state’s court decision against them. Our problem is with the death penalty which we do not practice or implement in the Philippines.

As to when China would decide to end the suspension of the death sentences issued again them, nobody knows for sure.

For now, relatives of the three Filipino nationals are happy that a “miracle” saved their kin for now. Let us join them and the rest of the Philippines in celebrating this triumph of the fundamental right to life against judicial executions, and thank China for its humanitarian decision.

What is important is that lives are saved.