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Filipinos pray for drug smugglers

Vigil for 'mules' sentenced to death in China asks for clemency reporters, Manila

March 29, 2011

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Catholic and Protestant Churches in the Philippines have joined human rights and migrant groups in calling on China to cancel the execution of three Filipino drug smugglers. The Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People and the Archdiocese of Manila held a prayer vigil today. An alliance of Church and civil organizations wrote a letter of appeal to president Hu Jintao of China asking for "compassion". The three Filipinos - Ramon Credo, 42, Elizabeth Batain, 38, and Sally Villanueva, 32 - are due to be executed by lethal injection on March 30. The group said the convicts "are victims of larger drug syndicates who take advantage of the unawareness, vulnerability and desperation of our people." Monsignor Achilles Dakay of the Archdiocese of Cebu said the scheduled execution of the three Filipinos should serve as a "wake-up call" for the Philippine government and prospective overseas Filipino workers. He said the Philippines should respect China's decision to execute the three because Manila has no control over China's law. He said the incident should prompt the government to intensify its campaign against drug trafficking. He warned Filipinos planning to work abroad not to be blinded by promises of big money in exchange of smuggling drugs. Philippine officials in China said they have submitted to the Chinese government letters from families of two of three convicts. The sentence of the three convicted drug smugglers is set to be carried out at 9:40 a.m. on Wednesday. Novicio said: "We are not losing hope." PM13788.1647
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