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'Let's respect rule of law' of other countries - SC

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BAGUIO CITY - The Philippines' highest tribunal has thrown in its words worth in the continuing debate on why three Filipino criminal convicts were executed in China despite pleas for their lives for humanitarian reasons.

“We have to respect the rule of law" in other places, said lawyer Jose Midas Marquez, spokesman and Administrator of the Supreme Court, which is now in summer sessions here.

Marquez was referring to Elizabeth Batain, Sally Villanueva and Ramon Credo, who were executed in the morning of March 30 for the crime of heroin smuggling.

The Chinese Government has repeatedly said that the process from their arrest in 2008 in southern China to affirmation of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) of their conviction and the eventual execution this year were all "in the purview of Chinese laws."

The original date of execution on February 21 and 22 was postponed to March 30 after a failed personal attempt by Vice President Jejomar C. Binay for clemency. But he was told that it will be postponed "in consideration of the feelings of the Filipino people."

Binay met with President (Chief Justice) Wang Shengjun, of the Supreme People’s Court of the SPC on February 18, and a joint statement of that visit confirmed that the postponement was "within the scope of Chinese laws."

Judicial cooperation was also discussed in that quick meeting, attended also by a foreign ministry official and a key member of China's Cabinet.

The Philippine side stated that it fully respects China’s law and the verdict of the SPC.

”It’s very unfortunate that three of our countrymen were executed,” Marquez told reporters covering the Baguio sessions. However, "we have to respect the rule of law in the same way that we have our own rule of law in our jurisdiction,” he added.

Marquez said the death sentence was difficult for Filipinos to accept because the death penalty has been abolished in the Philippines.

”It becomes worse actually for us because, we, as a country, have suspended the death penalty,” Marquez added.

He noted that in the Philippines, those who have been “convicted of much greater offenses cannot be executed because we do not have that death penalty anymore.”

China is unwavering about death sentences for violators of its anti-illegal drugs law, which imposes death for possession of just 50 grams.

SPC President Wang and SC Chief Justice Renato Corona personally know each other, with the latter having arranged a Chinese university honorary degree in law for the latter.

Currently, two more Filipinos are serving life terms in China, a decision handed down only last February by the SPC.

The Appeals Court wanted them executed but a review of their case by the SPC led to a two-year reprieve. This meant that with good behavior in prison they will not be administered the lethal injection -- as was the case on March 30 -- but only imprisoned for life.

The families of Batain, Credo and Villanueva had wanted life imprisonment for their now-dead loved ones. (PNA)





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