China executes Filipina drug trafficker

China put to death a Filipina drug trafficker Wednesday, the Philippine foreign department said, after Beijing ignored Manila's request to spare her life.

"It is with profound sadness that we confirm that our Filipina (compatriot) was executed in China this morning," a sombre foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez told a news conference.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs would like to express its deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of the Filipina as they mourn the loss of their loved one," he added.

"The life of every Filipino is valuable and we pray that this is the last time that a tragedy like this befalls any of our countrymen."

Hernandez declined to name the woman, saying the government was honouring a request by her family.

She was arrested along with her male cousin for heroin-smuggling in 2011 and both were later sentenced to death. But the cousin won a two-year reprieve, according to the Philippine government.

The woman was the fifth convicted drugs smuggler from the Philippines to be executed by China since March 2011, when two women and a man were put to death for the crime.

A second Filipino man was executed in December 2011.

All five executions were carried out despite intense lobbying by Philippine President Benigno Aquino to have the sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

On Sunday Vice President Jejomar Binay aborted a planned trip to China to personally deliver Aquino's appeal to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, saying he had been advised by Beijing that it was not the right time to visit.

The latest execution comes amid already rocky relations between the two countries, soured by overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Aquino spokeswoman Abigail Valte also extended the government's sympathies to the woman's family.

"However unfortunate, we hope that this will serve as a continuing lesson to our citizens not to allow themselves to be victimised and to fall prey to these (drug) syndicates," she said in a statement.

About a tenth of the Philippines' 100 million people work abroad, many of them under harsh conditions. Drug traffickers sometimes exploit them into becoming drug mules.

A total of 213 other Filipinos are in China jails on drugs offences, the foreign department said.

Some 28 of them -- apart from the woman executed Wednesday -- have already been sentenced to death but have been granted two-year reprieves, it said.

The mainly Catholic Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006, and the 2011 executions of the four Filipino drug smugglers were met with widespread condemnation.