Filipino Church and migrant groups call on the Chinese government to spare the lives of three Filipino drug smugglers. (photo: Migrante)
Three Filipinos convicted in China of drug smuggling have been executed. The sentences were carried out by lethal injection this morning despite last-minute pleas by Catholic and Protestant Churches in the Philippines who joined human rights and migrant groups in calling on China to cancel the execution. Following today's executions, Philippine officials are tracking the case the case of another Filipino sentenced to death for a similar case. Noel Novicio, Philippine consul to Beijing, declined to identify the Filipino. “After the execution of our three compatriots, it is sad that at least one more faces the death penalty," he said. The Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People
(ECMI) and the Archdiocese of Manila
held a prayer vigil yesterday. An alliance of Church and civil organizations wrote a letter of appeal to president Hu Jintao of China asking for “compassion” for the three Filipinos – Ramon Credo, 42, Elizabeth Batain, 38, and Sally Villanueva, 32. The group said the convicts “are victims of larger drug syndicates who take advantage of the unawareness, vulnerability and desperation of our people.” Father Edwin Corros, head of ECMI, called on the Philippine government to immediately act to save other Filipinos on China’s death row. Reports said 74 more Filipinos are facing the death penalty for drug-related cases in China. “They should explore all means to save the others so this won’t happen again,” said Father Corros after celebrating a Mass for the executed Filipinos in Manila. The priest also lamented what he dubbed as “double standards” in implementing laws in the Philippines. He said the execution of the Filipinos in China “should serve as a lesson” to the Filipino people. “They are in this situation because they elected the wrong people into office, and so next time they should use their power to vote wisely,” Father Corros added. A Mass for the families of Villanueva and Credo was also celebrated at Philippines Consulate General in Xiamen. Father Francisco Jose Caluag Cruz of the Vincentian Order, who flew in from Tianjin to Xiamen, celebrated the mass.