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DFA exec: Pinay drug courier executed in China

China has executed the 35-year-old Filipina drug courier who was caught carrying at least six kilos of heroin in China in January 2011, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed Wednesday. “It is with profound sadness that we confirm that our fellow Filipino was executed in China this morning," said Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez, who declined to reveal the identity of the Filipino upon the request of her family. "Arrangements for the repatriation of the remains are being undertaken." The Filipina was caught with 6.198 kilos of heroin in her luggage at the Hangzhou International Airport on January 25, 2011. At that time, she was traveling from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates with her 27-year-old male cousin who was also caught carrying 6.171 kilos of heroin. China’s Supreme People’s Court also meted the death penalty on the cousin but with a two-year reprieve, meaning it can be reduced to life imprisonment if he displays good behavior while in detention. Unlike the cousin, the Pinay was found to be a repeat drug trafficker, hence the more severe punishment. In China, possession of at least 50 grams of illegal drugs is enough to warrant a death penalty usually done via lethal injection. PNoy's appeal The Philippines on Thursday last week appealed to the Chinese government to spare the life of the Filipina drug courier, to no avail. President Benigno Aquino III conveyed the request to commute her sentence to life imprisonment through a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was coursed through the Chinese Embassy in Manila and the Philippine Embassy in Beijing. Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier intended to go to China to plead for the life of the Filipina. However, his trip on Sunday failed to push through as China did not allow it. In a statement on his Facebook account, Binay, the presidential adviser on overseas Filipino worker concerns, said he was informed on Saturday by China’s foreign affairs ministry that it was “not a convenient time” for him to visit China. Sympathy Both Malacañang and the DFA expressed sympathy to the family of the executed Filipina. “The Department of Foreign Affairs would like to express its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of the Filipino as they mourn the loss of their loved one,” Hernandez said. “We certainly do not want other Filipino families to go through the same experience.” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, for her part, appealed to the media to allow the Filipina's family their privacy "at this difficult time." She added that the government hopes the execution of the Filipina drug courier "will serve as a continuing lesson to our citizens not to allow themselves to be victimized and to fall prey to these syndicates." The Filipina was the fifth Filipino drug courier to be punished by death in China since 2011. Hernandez told reporters last week that in China alone, there are 213 drug-related cases involving Filipino nationals. Of this figure, 28 resulted in death penalty convictions with two-year reprieve, 67 in life imprisonment and 107 termed imprisonment while 10 are still pending in courts. Recruited by a Nigerian Meanwhile, the 57-year-old father of the executed Filipina drug courier maintained that his daughter was just tricked when she was recruited as a drug courier, according to an exclusive report by John Consulta on GMA News TV's "Balitanghali" on Wednesday. The father noted that their family kept a modest living contrary to the belief of others. "Ako po ay nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng nakikiramay sa aking anak at sa pagpi-pray nila sa aking anak. Salamat po," he said in the report. Hernandez earlier said the Filipina was recruited by an unidentified Nigerian to smuggle in drugs to various countries. Hernandez said the "preponderance of the evidence was so large that the decision was to give her the death penalty sentence." The DFA spokesman said the Chinese court pointed out that the Filipina, who had been travelling to China as a tourist, had allegedly been "been doing this 18 times since 2008." She was reportedly paid from $3,000 to $4,000 (roughly P129,000 to P172,000) per trip after successfully smuggling drugs from Dubai to Hongkong and China. When she was caught in 2011, the Filipina claimed that she did not know there was heroin in the luggage, Hernandez said.   “The Philippines respects Chinese law and their verdict of the Supreme People’s Court on the case. The Philippine government itself has a strong anti-illegal drug policy and is closely cooperating with law enforcement agencies in China and in other countries on efforts against drug trafficking,” Hernandez said. Other Pinoys executed in China In March 2011, three Filipinos—Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, and Elizabeth Batain—were executed in China via lethal injection for possession of illegal drugs. Credo and Villanueva were executed in Xiamen, while Batain was executed in Guangzhou on March 30 that year. On May 24, 2008, Batain was caught smuggling 6,800 grams of heroin in Shenzhen. In the same year, Villanueva was caught on December 24 smuggling 4,110 grams of heroin in Xiamen, while Credo was caught four days later smuggling 4,113 grams of heroin in the same place. In December 2011, a 35-year-old Filipino was also executed in China for bringing 1.5 kilos of heroin to the country. — Andrei Medina, Andreo Calonzo, Rouchelle Dinglasan and Michaela del Callar/VVP/KBK/HS/DVM/ELR, GMA News