A Chinese court has upheld the drug trafficking conviction of a Filipino man and set his execution for Dec. 8 despite appeals for clemency from the Philippine president, officials said Wednesday.
The 35-year-old man, who was not identified, was arrested in September 2008 at Guilin International Airport in southern China while trying to smuggle 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) of heroin into Guangxi province from Malaysia, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said.
Smuggling more than 50 grams of heroin or other drugs is punishable by death in China.
The Philippine government provided all possible help to the condemned man and made "sustained and exhaustive representations with the Chinese government at all levels," including an appeal from President Benigno Aquino III to his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, to try to have the death sentence commuted to life in prison, officials said.
The foreign office expressed "its sadness at this turn of events" and said the convicted man's family has been told of the Chinese court's decision. Arrangements were being made for family members to immediately leave for China to meet with the condemned man.
The plight of Filipino workers overseas is an emotional issue in the Philippines, and ensuring their safety and welfare, often in conflict zones and countries with starkly different cultures, is a cornerstone of Philippine foreign policy. About 10 percent of the country's 94 million people work abroad to escape widespread poverty and unemployment at home.
In March, China executed three Filipino workers who were convicted of smuggling heroin despite last-minute appeals and political concessions by Philippine leaders. The three were arrested in 2008 and convicted and sentenced in 2009.
Aquino sent at least three letters to Hu and deployed his vice president to appeal, prompting China to postpone the executions of the three by a month. The Philippine government said it was able to prove that a drug syndicate had taken advantage of the Filipino workers.