12/02/2011 01:17 pm ET

China: Filipino Drug Smuggler To Be Executed

(AP) -- 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 man was reportedly busted with 1.5 kilograms (about 3.3 pounds) of heroin at the Guilin International Airport in 2008. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the 35-year-old man's family is making arrangements to visit him in China.

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. According to ABS-CBN News, a presidential spokesperson from the Philippines made the following statement:

"We recognize the decision of the judicial authorities in China ... We respect that and I believe that in the same manner that three Filipinos wee previously executed, this should not cause a hiccup in Filipino-Chinese relations."

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.