BEIJING, December 14, 2010 (AFP) – China said Tuesday it was handling the cases of five Filipinos sentenced to death for drugs offenses according to law, after Manila linked their fate to its no-show at the Nobel peace prize ceremony.liu xiaobo, jiang yu,

Philippines President Benigno Aquino told a newspaper that staying away from Friday’s ceremony in Oslo to honour peace laureate Liu Xiaobo had been “in our national interest” — a reference to convicted Filipinos in China.

“China’s judiciary handled the cases of the five Philippine drug traffickers independently and in accordance with law,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters when asked about Manila’s no-show in Norway.

“Their rights have been ensured and we have been following the conventions on consular affairs and regular Chinese laws and regulations,” Jiang said.

“We will update the Philippine side on the case in a timely manner and provide necessary assistance and convenience for Philippine consular officials.”

Beijing has expressed its fury at the honor given to Liu, who was sentenced in December 2009 to 11 years in prison on subversion charges after co-authoring a bold petition that calls for political reform in one-party China.

It had attempted to dissuade countries from attending the award ceremony, warning of unspecified consequences.

The Daily Inquirer said Aquino had written to Beijing seeking clemency for the five Filipinos, who were handed the death penalty for drugs trafficking.

“It’s in our national interest that we do not, at this time, send a representative to the Nobel award rites,” he told the paper ahead of the ceremony.

Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma and foreign department spokesman Eduardo Malaya confirmed the president was referring to a bid to obtain clemency for the five.

The official reason for the no-show was a scheduling clash but several top-level officials have admitted privately that Manila wanted to appease Beijing.