66 Filipinos face death in China on drug charges: Manila

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 10 2010 06:24 PM | Updated as of Jan 11 2010 02:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - At least 66 Filipinos face the death penalty in China for drug smuggling, the Philippine foreign ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry revealed the statistics following China's controversial December 29 execution of a British national convicted of drug smuggling.

Nine of the Filipinos face execution with no chance of reprieve while 57 were sentenced with possible reprieve, said Foreign Under-secretary Esteban Conejos.

Another 30 Filipinos are serving life imprisonment, while 44 are serving lesser terms of up to 50 years on drug charges. Another 55 still have cases pending, he added.

He said that under Chinese law, smuggling of 50 grams (1.76 ounces) or more of any illegal narcotic drug into the country was punishable by death.

However he said Chinese judicial authorities in the past had "demonstrated remarkable forbearance and accommodation" towards Filipinos charged with drug smuggling.

He said the Philippines also had to show it was making an effort to stem cases of Filipinos being used as "drug mules" to smuggle narcotics into China.

"We have to take this very seriously. It is important for us to demonstrate that we continue to address this problem," he said.