MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said China executed three Filipinos convicted of drug smuggling Wednesday despite last-minute appeals for clemency and political concessions by the country’s leaders.

Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, 32, and Ramon Credo, 42, met their families for the last time early Wednesday before they were put to death by lethal injection in Xiamen, said Philippine Consul Noel Novicio. Elizabeth Batain, 38, was allowed to meet with her relatives hours ahead of her execution in Shenzhen, Novicio said.

The three were not aware they would be executed Wednesday although their sentences were promulgated early in the day, Novicio said. It was the first time that Filipino nationals were executed in China.

China normally does not announce executions. Amnesty International says China is the world’s biggest executioner, with thousands of convicts killed every year. The Philippines has abolished the death penalty.

“They already gave us (her) things. It’s too much, they gave us only one hour (with her). They have no mercy,” Ordinario-Villanueva’s sister, Maylene Ordinario, said in a text message from Xiamen to her family in the Philippines.

She said that her sister was blessed by a priest and “she said she wants to be forgiven for all her sins but she insisted that she was a victim.”

“She asked us to take care of her children, to take care of each other and to help one another. I have not accepted what will happen. We are forcing ourselves to accept it but I can’t,” she told Manila radio station DZBB.

The three were arrested separately in 2008 carrying packages containing at least 8 pounds (4 kilograms) of heroin. They were convicted and sentenced in 2009.

In its appeals for clemency, which included three letters by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to his Chinese counterpart and a February visit to Beijing by the vice president that prompted China to postpone the executions by a month, the government said it was able to prove that a drug syndicate took advantage of the Filipinos. It said that Philippine authorities succeeded in identifying and arresting some members of the syndicate.