Both countries seemed to be open to the idea as majority of the cases that involved the imprisonment of both nationalities is under illegal drug trades.
According to reports, majority of imprisoned Filipinos in China were arrested to have been involved in drug trafficking. In the Philippines, a number of Chinese prisoners are also involved in illegal drug activities.
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“There are some discussions on transfer of sentenced persons. They are trying to reach agreement so if they are sentenced they can be transferred,” Philippine Ambassador to China, Jose Santiago Sta. Romana told the media in a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.
The purpose of such exchange is to allow the prisoners to serve their sentences in their respective countries as there are Chinese prisoners in Philippine prisons as well as Filipino prisoners jailed in China.
“One of the issues being discussed is the possible agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons because there are also Chinese [prisoners] in the Philippines so that they could serve their sentence[s] in their own countries,” Sta. Romana said.
“So one of the problems we have here and is accumulated through the years is the number of Filipinos being detained because of being drug mules or because of carrying illegal amounts of drugs,” he added.
There are almost 200 detainees that are Filipinos in Chinese prisons.
Romana added that they are just waiting for the Department of Justice to suggest a method on how to carry out the plan of the exchange of prisoners.
However, Romana clarified that the exchange of prisoners will not be of mass number, but instead a case-to-case basis which will require them to evaluate and assess each case of involved prisoners from both Philippines and China.
Romana has stated his hopes that such plans will approved by both governments and be carried out. He added that the close ties of the Philippines, especially of President Rodrigo Duterte with the Chinese government, particularly because both governments undergo and understand the battle against illegal drugs, this project will be pushed through.
As a matter of fact, just few months ago, Chinese citizens living in the Philippines were arrested during a buy-bust operation in Subic as part of Duterte's campaign to end the illegal drug trades in the Philippines.
It can be remembered that President Rodrigo Duterte waged war against illegal drugs at the start of his term, last year. His war against drugs has received different opinions. Some commend him and his activities against drugs because it has put drug personalities and drug users behind bars. It even said to have reduced the rate of crimes in the Philippines.
However, President Duterte's war on drugs also became infamous as it involved extra-judicial killings. The war has become bloody as it killed thousands of people, convicted and suspects alike. Many criticized such activities because of its inhumane results, making innocent lives as collateral damage.
The president, despite all this, continues to push through with his war on drugs in the Philippines.