MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A 35-year-old Filipino woman convicted of drug trafficking in China was executed in that country on Wednesday, the Philippine government said.
Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Raul Hernandez said the woman, who has not been identified publicly, was executed Wednesday morning. There was no immediate word from China, which usually does not announce executions except in especially high-profile cases.
The execution came days after Beijing told Manila that it would not receive Vice President Jejomar Binay, who had planned to deliver a letter Sunday from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, seeking a commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said then that his visit would not be "convenient," and Binay canceled his trip.
China has previously ignored such appeals and executed four Filipino drug convicts in 2011.
Philippine government officials said Wednesday's execution should serve as a warning to other Filipinos.
"We certainly do not want other Filipino families to go through the same experience, and therefore we renew our call to our countrymen to avoid involvement with drug syndicates," Hernandez said. "We pray that this is the last time that a tragedy like this befalls any of our countrymen."
Presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte expressed hope "that this will serve as a continuing lesson to our citizens not to allow themselves to be victimized and to fall prey to these (drug) syndicates."
In a statement, Binay said, "It's not worth it. Lives are at stake here."
Hernandez has said that the woman was arrested at the Hangzhou International Airport in January 2011 along with a Filipino man. Heroin was found hidden in her luggage, and she was later convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death. Her companion was also sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.
Hernandez quoted Chinese authorities as saying the woman had trafficked illegal drugs to China 18 times since 2008 and was paid $3,000 to $4,000 per trip. She pleaded not guilty but the evidence against her was overwhelming, he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday that Chinese judicial authorities made a "fair judgment." She said death sentences are used "cautiously" and are subject to strict legal procedures and regulations.
She reminded all foreigners in China to follow Chinese laws and not to engage in illegal activities.