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TAIWAN COMMUTES SENTENCE FOR 2 PINOYS ON DEATH ROW

February 13, 2017: Taiwan’s Supreme Court has commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence of two Filipinos convicted of murder, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) said.
Gary Song-Huann Lin, Taiwan’s representative to the Philippines, said clemency was granted to Nemencia Armia and Darwin Gorospe Sarmiento.
Lin said if they would be penitent and behave in prison, they could be eligible to apply for parole after serving a certain number of years as required by Taiwan’s law.
Armia was sentenced to death for stabbing her job broker, a 48-year-old Taiwanese woman who helped foreigners find teaching jobs at private schools in the Kaohsiung area in Taiwan in 2007. She was caught on closed-circuit television disposing of the body in a garbage bag.
She also used the victim’s debit card and made several ATM withdrawals amounting to over NT$660,000 (about $20,200) from the bank account of the deceased.
She was sentenced to death by the Kaohsiung District Court in Taiwan. But on humanitarian grounds, the Taiwan High Court’s Kaohsiung branch overruled the death sentence and twice sentenced her to life in prison in 2010. 
According to reports, Armia was silent during the court hearing. After she was told by an interpreter that her death sentence had been mitigated to a life sentence, she said “thank you” to the judge.
Sarmiento, meanwhile, was sentenced to death by Taiwan’s District Court in 2015 for killing a grocery store owner in Taiwan’s Taoyuan County in 2014. He was also convicted of sexual assault and robbery.
He hit the storeowner with a hammer then stabbed him in the neck with a screwdriver. He initially denied the killing, but confessed when he learned the store’s surveillance camera had captured the killing and robbery.
Taiwan’s Supreme Court said Sarmiento did not intend to kill the owner, but was trying to rob the grocery store. It also noted that Sarmiento had been under severe financial pressure to settle medical bills for his daughter who has congenital heart disease.
“Eventually, instead of the death penalty, the Supreme Court in Taiwan commuted the sentence of Sarmiento convicted of murder to life imprisonment,” Lin said.
Lin said TECO is also willing to help the family members of Armia and Sarmiento to obtain visas if they wish to visit them in Taiwan. (Sources: The Philippine Star, 14/02/2017)

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