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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ople Center seeks creation of a joint task force to curb use of Filipinos as drug mules

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center called on immigration, airport and drug enforcement agents to form a joint task force to crack down on international drug rings that deploy Filipinos as drug mules abroad.

The non-government organization involved in helping distressed overseas workers, expressed alarm over the rising number of drug smuggling incidents abroad involving Filipinos, most of who are women.

Former labor undersecretary Susan Ople, head of the policy center, cited the recent arrest of a Filipina caught with five kilograms of cocaine at the Puduraya bus station in Malaysia last week.

The 45-year old suspect was said to have received US$3,000 (RM 10, 596) by a foreign drug trafficking ring. The drugs were diluted and dried with an assortment of t-shirts found in her baggage. She has been charged under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1952 which carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

Ople said that there was another case of a Filipino arrested and charged last February in Shanghai, China for bringing in 60 cylinder-shaped articles wrapped in scotch tape found inside her body which, contained 607 grams of heroin.

During the trial, the suspect admitted that she swallowed 60 capsules of drugs but had no idea that the capsules contained heroin. The Filipina claimed that she followed the instructions of the syndicate because her mother was seriously ill and she has many children to support. In consideration of her voluntary admission, the Shanghai court rendered a sentence of 15 years fixed term imprisonment, rather than the death penalty. Ople said what is worrisome is that some syndicates are now using pregnant women as drug mules, to reduce suspicion and in the hopes that the "mules" when caught, will be given a lighter sentence.

"In the end, it is our own citizens that are put in jail while the ringleaders of these syndicates remain scot-free," the Center stressed, adding that most of the syndicates are led by Nigerian nationals.

According to the DFA, around 500 Filipinos are in various jails around the world due to drug smuggling, with at least 200 of them detained in China alone.

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