77 Pinoys on death row abroad

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 20 2012 10:53 PM | Updated as of Mar 21 2012 06:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines said Tuesday its diplomats had increased their efforts to save 77 Filipinos on death row overseas after four nationals were executed in China last year for drug trafficking.

"We are helping them out. We are making high level representations and making sure they have access to legal and consular assistance and trying to get their sentences commuted," Foreign Department spokesman Raul Hernandez said.

Last year, four Filipinos were put to death in China for drug trafficking despite the intervention of high-level officials including an appeal from Philippines President Benigno Aquino.

The executions triggered widespread condemnation in the largely-Catholic country which abolished the death sentence in 2006.

Of those facing execution, 42 are detained in China on drugs charges, he said.

Six Filipinos face the death sentence in Malaysia, five also for drugs-related offences, while one Filipina convicted for the same reason is detained in Indonesia.

There are 27 Filipinos on death row in the Middle East, most for murder, while another Filipino is facing execution for murder in the United States, said Hernandez.

He did not say when the 77 were due to be executed.

The welfare of Filipinos abroad is a sensitive issue in a country where where more than nine million work overseas, many in harsh conditions where they can be tricked into acting as drug mules.