Case of Pinoys on death row a ‘test’ of PH-China relations

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2011 03:13 PM | Updated as of Feb 17 2011 10:55 PM

Palace plans to send VP Binay to China

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said the Philippine government continues to exert efforts to save the lives of three Filipinos set to be executed next week in China, including three more also on death row over drug charges. 
"Hindi tayo tumitigil," Aquino told reporters after presiding over the DND-AFP command conference at Camp Aguinaldo.
The President is planning to send Vice President Jejomar Binay to China to convey the Philippine government's appeal for a commutation of the death sentence of 6 Filipinos to life imprisonment.
"I might send him as an emissary to stress how important this is for us to have the death penalty be commuted to life imprisonment as we are doing here," he said.
The President said the government has been trying to arrange a phone conversation between him and Chinese President Hu Jintao to make a personal appeal, but there are no signs yet of "willingness to accept the phone call." 
The President said the Palace has been trying to set up the call since Friday. "But as of now, hindi pa rin sila nagsi-signify ng willingness to accept the phone call," he said. 
The President has already written a letter to the Chinese authorities last August, asking for a commutation of the sentence. Their sentences then were still being reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court of China.
The President said he has also been discussing with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao the status of the six Filipinos and 70 others.

The President said the Ambassador pointed out that China is "very, very strict with [its] drug laws" where the issue of drugs is a major problem.
"To a degree, medyo mahirap na ipakiusap dahil drugs e. Tsaka nung binabasa natin ang records, kilo-kilo ang pinag-uusapan. Yung drugs is a worldwide problem. We have to respect their sovereignty and kung dumaan [ba] sa sistema nila, wala tayong masasabi sa process nung trial," Aquino said.
However, the President is hoping that Chinese authorities grant the Philippine government's appeal, saying that "our request is very, very reasonable."
The President is confident that the row between China and the Philippines following the government's handling of the August 23 Manila hostage crisis will not affect the fate of the 6 Filipinos.

Aquino said the Philippines and China have since had "very good relations," citing the recent deportation of Taiwanese nationals to China.
"We think we have very good relations with them, yung latest issue sa dineport who were criminals also. But unfortunately, we have not yet been successful [in the appeal]. But we will not stop," he said.

The Philippines also did not send a representative to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo as a way to appease China, which had protested the award.

"Our request is very, very reasonable. It is time for them also to demonstrate their oft-pronounced statements of improved and closer bilateral ties. This will be a test," Aquino said.
"Marami tayong nahuhuling mga Chinese nationalities involved in drugs but we have not executed any because we have done away with the death penalty. We'd like to see some reciprocity," he added.