Vientiane, LAOS - President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday said he will personally appeal for the commutation of the death sentence handed to a Filipino woman found guilty of smuggling drugs into Vietnam.
Speaking to reporters covering his attendance at the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Laos, Aquino said he would look for an opportunity to speak with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to ask for a commutation of the death sentence.
"I, probably, will try to look for an opportunity to talk to Premier (Nguyen) Tan Dung, who's a good friend of our country. So far… I read, for instance, recently na… 'yung mga sentenced to death in Vietnam, wala pa namang ini-execute, lately, lalo nung nag-shift sila to lethal injection," he said.
"Wala raw 'yung the necessary chemicals. So may times naman na may mga citizens silang namroblema sa atin, for instance, sa fishing at nilapit nila sa atin," he added.
"Tayo naman ang lalapit ngayon na ang minimum na pakiusap natin kahit tinanggal na natin 'yung death penalty, ihingi natin minimum commutation sana. Kung kailangan life imprisonment pero not to minimum death. So I'll do it informally first now then, we will communicate formally kung hindi to the President, to the Prime Minister," Aquino said.
"Pero the allegation is hindi nahuling minsan e, para bang multiple times na nag-engaged in drug trafficking. Kung ganoon, 'di ba, may limits rin 'yung puwede natin ipapakiusap-kung gaano natin puwedeng ipakiusap," the President said.
Amodia Teresita Palacio, a 61-year-old Filipina, was earlier found guilty of smuggling methamphetamine into Vietnam.
Palacio was arrested for possession of more than 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of the drug in April at a Hanoi airport.
She was found guilty of repeatedly entering the country from Thailand to smuggle drugs.
Vietnam's drug laws are among the toughest in the world and anyone found guilty of possessing more than around half a kilogram of heroin faces the death penalty.
At present, there are more than 400 prisoners on death row in the country, mostly for cases involving drugs or murder, but executions have declined in recent years.
Since July 2011, when Vietnam replaced execution by firing squad to lethal injection, no prisoners have been put to death as the country failed to import the lethal drugs needed to carry out the penalty.
Forty-three people have received death sentences since the start of this year, mainly for murder and drug charges. - with a report from Agence France-Presse