A Filipina sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling was visited by relatives in jail for the first and last time Monday, hours or days before her expected execution, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) ministry said.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the family was escorted into a provincial prison to see the woman, who was arrested along with her male cousin for smuggling more than 12 kilograms (26 pounds) of heroin into China in 2011.
“The family was able to talk with our (compatriot) for 30 minutes,” Hernandez told a news conference.
“This will be the only time that the family will be allowed to talk with (her) in that detention center.”
The cousin, who was also sentenced to death but later earned a two-year reprieve, will also be visited by the woman’s family later the same day, according to Hernandez.
The two are among more than 200 Filipinos detained for drug-related cases across China, according to the ministry.
It said Filipinos who travel abroad to find jobs and escape poverty at home are vulnerable to recruitment as drug mules by international narcotics gangs.
Hernandez said the family had not been told when exactly the woman would be put to death.
However, he said the Filipino consul-general in China expects the sentence to be carried out between now and July 3.
President Benigno Aquino has urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to commute her sentence to life imprisonment, an appeal the Filipino leader had hoped to convey in person through Vice President Jejomar Binay.
However Binay called off the trip on Sunday, saying Beijing had advised him against pursuing the visit at this time.
Hernandez said Manila was still waiting for Beijing’s official response to Aquino’s appeal.