The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reiterates its appeal to all Filipinos to avoid accepting offers from individuals or groups to carry illegal drugs in their luggage or in their person when going abroad in exchange for money, as harsh penalties await them in their destinations.
This is in light of the Philippine Consulate General in Macau SAR’s report to the DFA on the arrest of two Filipinos, a man and a woman, on February 1 by the Judiciary Police (PJ) in Macau SAR for alleged drug trafficking.
The two were apprehended in an apartment with 46 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, popularly known in the Philippines as shabu. The drugs have an estimated street value of 90,000 patacas (US$11,392.405). Several drug paraphernalia were also found in the apartment.
A suspected buyer, also a Filipino, was also brought in for questioning.
Consulate officials extended assistance to the Filipinos to ensure that their rights are respected and have been coordinating with Macau SAR authorities on the matter.
The Consulate has been constantly warning Filipinos based in Macau and Filipino tourists against using and dealing in drugs.
As of date, there are some 19 Filipinos currently detained in Macau on drug cases.
The Philippine Government has a strong anti-illegal drug policy, and is closely cooperating with law enforcement agencies in other countries on efforts against anti-drugs trafficking. It is undertaking comprehensive and proactive measures to address the drug mules issue and to prevent the further victimization of Filipinos by international drug syndicates.
The DFA has been working closely with other concerned agencies on drug trafficking cases, according to its press statement.
The Philippine Consulate Generals in Hong Kong and Macau have reiterated its warning to Filipinos to be extra wary of accepting offers from individuals or groups to carry illegal drugs in their luggage or in their person when going abroad.
Earlier, Hongkong and Macau airport authorities arrested Filipinos in three separate occasions there for alleged drug trafficking.
In Hong Kong, Consul General Claro Cristobal said authorities arrested two Filipinas on separate occasions for alleged drug trafficking.
The first arrest was made on June 2 when immigration authorities at Hong Kong International Airport refused entry of a Filipina.
As a customary procedure before deportation, her luggage was taken to the customs checking area for inspection. Authorities reportedly found 1,040 grams of heroin hidden inside the soles of three pairs of shoes in her suitcase. The estimated street value of the drugs was HK$930,000 (US$119, 500).
The Filipina is currently under custodial remand at Tail Lam Centre for women, and her case will be heard in Tsuen Wan Magistrate Court on September 2.
In a letter to the Consulate-General, the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department informed them of the arrest of another Filipina on June 24. The said Filipina was charged with drug trafficking the next day and was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to extract the drugs from her body cavity. The doctors managed to extract about 876 grams of heroin from her body, with an estimated street value of HK$780,000 (US$100,300).
She is currently confined at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and will be brought for custodial remand at the Tai Lam Centre for Women.
“The Consulate-General will ensure that these Filipinas will have legal representation in all their court appearances and will continue to monitor the said cases,” Consul General Cristobal said.
Meanwhile, the Consulate General in Macau reported that a Filipina was arrested at the Macau International Airport on June 26 for allegedly smuggling almost one kilogram of drugs hidden in three pairs of sports shoes in her luggage. The arrest was published as a headline of the Macau Post Daily.
“We have made arrangements with the Macau authorities to visit her and we will extend necessary legal assistance to her,” he said.
Consul General to Macau Renato Villapando said that they are concerned with the increasing number of Filipinos serving sentences in Macau for drug trafficking. The number of jailed Filipinos now stands to 17.
Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos has continuously issued warnings to Filipino travelers against becoming drug couriers.
“We warn our countrymen not to accept packages which they suspect are drugs. If they are caught carrying illegal drugs, they will face very dire consequences,” he said.
Drug trafficking of 50 grams or more of illegal drugs in China is punishable by 15 years in prison, life imprisonment or death. In Muslim countries, drug trafficking is punishable by death, according to Shariah law.
23 February 2010 – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested four members of a West African drug syndicate which recruited Filipinos as drug couriers, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.
DFA spokesperson Eduardo Malaya said the syndicate is composed of three Guinea Bissau nationals and a Filipina.
“This decisive action by Philippine law enforcement authorities should serve as a stern warning to those who have been victimizing Filipinos. It is also a reminder to our kababayans not to allow themselves to be willing victims in exchange for money,” Malaya said.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported that the four drug mules arrested were in their way to bringing their Filipino recruits to the airport in Clark Field, Pampanga. They also seized from the suspects two thumb-sized capsules containing 20.0170 grams of cocaine hydrochloride as well as instruments used for drug trafficking.
The NBI recommended the filing of charges against the four for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 before the Angeles City Prosecutor’s office in Pampanga where the arrest took place.
Earlier, DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Esteban Conejos, Jr. revealed that the number of Filipinos facing drug-related charges in China has increased at alarming levels. Seventy-two Filipinos are facing capital punishment due to drug trafficking. Some 62 out of the 72 have a chance of getting a reprieve.
Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 279 last week, creating an inter-agency task force for the prevention of Filipinos being used as drug couriers by international drug trafficking syndicates.
President Arroyo signed the Administrative Order on the recommendation of the DFA.
According to the AO, the fight against illegal drugs would require that all available government resources be utilized and that concerned law enforcement agencies be coordinated to ensure the implementation of a unified anti-drug program that would address the problem of drug couriers.
The Drug Couriers Task Force (TFDC) will be composed of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as chair; the DFA as co-chair; and the Department of Labor and Employment, the Bureau of Immigration, the Bureau of Customs, the NBI, the Philippine Information Agency, the Manila International Airport Authority, and the Philippine Tourism Authority as members.
The TFDC is tasked to develop and execute programs and strategies against the recruitment of Filipinos as international drug couriers by international drug trafficking syndicates that victimize overseas Filipinos.