Doomed Filipino woman: I was tricked

Below is the full text of a sworn statement executed by Sally Ordinario-Villanueva before Philippine Vice Consul Ambrosio Brian Enciso III in Xiamen City, China, on March 26. Ordinario is one of three Filipinos facing execution in China on Wednesday for drug smuggling. She says she is innocent.

Philippine Consulate General
Xiamen City
People's Republic of China


I, Sally Ordinario Villanueva, Filipino citizen, 33 years old, female, married to Hilarion Baltazar Villanueva, with postal address at Habitat Village Gumbauan, Echague, lsabela Province, Philippines and currently detained at the Xiamen No. 1 Detention House No. 58 Huguang Road 1 Xiamen City 361004, People's Republic of China, after having been duly sworn to in accordance with law, do hereby depose and say that:

1. I am a native of Isabela Province. My parents are Geronimo Ordinario and Basilisa Catbagan. I am a high school graduate and used to run a sari-sari store in the Philippines;

2. I have two children, aged 12 and 9 years;

3. I worked as a domestic worker in Macau between the months of April 2007 to July 2008;

4. While working in Macau, I made the acquaintance of someone named Mapet Cortez, who also goes by the name Tita Cacayan, who hails from Rizal Alicia, Isabela Province. We became friends because we both come from the same province and have some common friends;

5. The person whose picture appears on "ANNEX 1" of this Sworn Statement is the same person known to me as Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan, and is the same person I met in Macau and is also the one who asked me to carry an empty silver-grey suitcase to China, which was later found out to have been concealing illegal drugs;

Cell phone business

6. Sometime in December 2008, after my work in Macau ended and I was back in Isabela, I ran into Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan.

7. During that time, Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan asked me to come to China to help out in the cellular phone store run by her boss by carrying cell phones from China to be sold in the Philippines to take advantage of the Christmas season shopping rush. I agreed to this offer by Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan since I was jobless at that time;

8. Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan promised that her boss would cover all my traveling expenses and accommodation outside the Philippines;

9. In the afternoon of 18 December 2008, around 2:00 in the afternoon, Mapet Cortez a.ka. Tita Cacayan called and told me to give my passport to a travel agency in Manila who will reportedly facilitate my application for a Chinese visa. At this time, I cannot recall the name of the travel agency, although I do recall that it was somewhere around the Dimasalang area. I was accompanied by my mother, Basilisa, to go to said travel agency;

Salary: P25,000 (S$730)

10. On 22 December 2008, Mapet Cortez a.k.a, Tita Cacayan again called to inform me that she already booked my flight to China through the same travel agency. Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan told me that I was to fly to Xiamen from Manila via China Southern Airlines flight CZ378 on 24 December 2008. Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan also asked me not to bring a suitcase of my own because she would provide me with a suitcase to take to China;

11. On 23 December 2008, my husband Hilarion and I met with Mapet Cortez a.k.a Tita Cacayan in her place in Isabela to pick up a silver-grey suitcase. The suitcase appeared empty.

12. This silver-grey suitcase was the same one I used to travel to Xiamen. I placed my own belongings into said suitcase;

13. Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan gave me US$500.00 (S$630) as pocket money and also gave the name and contact number & the contact person in China, which I wrote down on a piece of paper. I could no longer remember the name and phone number written on said piece of paper. Furthermore, Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan said that if I could successfully get in touch with said contact person and do as that person instructs, her boss would pay me a monthly salary of PhP25,000.00;

Jailed on Christmas

14. On 24 December 2008, I was not successful in getting in touch with the contact person in China because I was apprehended by the Chinese authorities upon arrival at the Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport;

15. I was apprehended by officers who I later learned were Chinese Customs agents. The agents conducted on-the-spot (i.e. at the airport) investigation and they discovered two bags of white powder wrapped in black plastic bag with reported gross weight of 4,110 grams concealed inside the inner lining of the silver-grey suitcase, which was the suitcase given to me by Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan on 23 December 2008. The customs officials suspected the white powder to be illegal drugs;

16. On 25 December 2008, I was held in custody by the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Xiamen Customs.

17. I was eventually brought to the Xiamen No. 1 Detention House to be detained;

18. From the time of my arrival and apprehension, and until this date, I did not any more have any contact with Mapet Cortez, a.k.a. Tita Cacayan.

19. Later, I was informed by officials of the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Xiamen Customs that the Xiamen Public Security Bureau identified the contents of the two black plastic bags to be heroin;

Legal assistance

20. According to the Chinese officials, I was suspected of committing the crime of drug smuggling in violation of Chinese regulations.

21. The investigators provided an English interpreter during the course of the investigation phase of my case;

22. On 21 January 2009, the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Xiamen Customs officially arrested me for smuggling over 4,000 grams of heroin into China;

23. During the trial, I was provided legal representation by the Court, as well as legal and consular assistance by the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen. The Court also provided an English interpreter for my hearings by the Xiamen Municipal Intermediate People's Court on 24 June 2009 and the Fujian Provincial Higher People's Court on 23 October 2009;

24. Upon my request, the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen provided a Filipino interpreter during the hearing conducted by the Intermediate Court to help me communicate properly with the Chinese Court;

Sentence of death

25. The Intermediate Court sentenced me to death and confiscation of personal property on 16 July 2009;

26. With the help of the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen, I filed for an appeal, which was rejected by the Fujian Provincial Higher People's Court. The Higher Court upheld the sentence of death and confiscation of personal property on 26 December 2009. My case was then automatically elevated to the Supreme People's Court in Beijing for final review;

27. While under investigation and during my trials, I insisted that I was not aware that the suitcase given to me by Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan contained illegal drugs and I was merely a victim, the Chinese authorities and courts apparently did not believe me due to the amount of illegal drugs found in the suitcase given to me by Mapet Cortez a.k.a Tita Cacayan;

Bigger operation

28. After all that has happened, I am convinced beyond any doubt that Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan knowingly tricked me into carrying a suitcase with concealed illegal drugs and I was only used as a courier to smuggle drugs from the Philippines to China. I am also convinced that Mapet Cortez a.k.a. Tita Cacayan is part of a bigger operation of drug smugglers operating in the Philippines and across many countries and territories.

29. I am executing this affidavit of my own free will and deed and to attest to the truthfulness of the foregoing facts;

30. Affiant further sayeth none.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my signature on this 26th day of March 2011 in Xiamen City, People's Republic of China.


-Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network