China has allowed Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay to make an emergency visit today to Beijing as part of Manila’s attempts to save three Filipino nationals from being executed after being found guilty of drug trafficking.
Binay leaves Friday morning for Beijing where he will meet the president of China’s supreme people’s court and the executive vice foreign minister.
In his meetings with the Chinese officials, Binay is expected to plead for the lives of Ramon Credo, Sally Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain who all face the death penalty for allegedly bringing into China several kilograms of heroin, a prohibited substance both in China and the Philippines.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila has scheduled a media briefing at 1:00 pm to purportedly inform the public on the plight of the three Filipino nationals facing execution in China. Binay’s meetings with top Chinese officials would have been finished by the time.
Only time will tell about the effects of Binay’s apparent “mission impossible” but Filipinos, including President Benigno Aquino III, are hopeful that China would downgrade the penalty to “life imprisonment” on “humanitarian grounds”.
Earlier on Thursday, China rejected the Philippines’ request to have Binay allowed to quickly fly to Beijing precisely to find ways for the three Filipino nationals to be spared the death penalty.
For several days now, relatives of the three Filipino nationals have repeatedly appeared in primetime newscasts to ask President Aquino to intervene on behalf of their kin.
Beijing’s embassy in Manila has also vigorously defended the decisions of its courts that found the Filipino nationals guilty of drug trafficking:
Chinese law prescribes that any person, no matter if he or she is a Chinese citizen or a foreigner, who commits crime shall be brought to justice.
“No one is privileged to transcend the law. Drug-related crimes, which are doing appalling harm to our societies, has been universally recognized as a scourge by the whole world. (Illegal) drugs are bitterly detested by the international community, China and the Philippines included.
Manila has largely cooperated with China on various issues. Despite its posturing as an advocate of democracy and human rights, the Philippines under President Aquino did not join the protests over the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident. Whether Beijing will remember that as Binay pleads for the three Filipino nationals’ lives is still a question.
Manila has also cooperated with investigators and prosecutors of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as they make their own investigation into the August 23, 2010 hostage-taking crisis in Manila where a number of hostages, all residents of Hong Kong, were killed and others seriously injured.
Recently, Manila deported suspected Taiwanese criminals to China and not Taiwan, an act that angered the Taipei government. Manila is an advocate of a “one-China policy” but maintains proto-diplomatic economic and cultural relations with Taiwan.
Scores of Filipinos have been arrested, detained, charged and convicted of drug trafficking upon their arrival at Chinese ports of entry. Manila and Beijing calls them “drug mules” for allowing strangers to have them carry baggage or luggage into China that allegedly contain prohibited substances such as heroin.