Lawmaker calls for commutation of death sentence for Filipino drug mules in China

A LAWMAKER called on the Chinese government to commute the death penalty of 3 Filipinos: a male, 42 years old, who was convicted for smuggling 4,113 grams of heroin on Dec. 28, 2008, in Xiamen; a female, 32 years old, who was convicted for smuggling 6,800 grams of heroin on May 24, 2008 in Shenzhen.

Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares of Bayan Muna  also urged Congress particularly the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, to immediately start the inquiry on Filipino drugs mules that we filed under House Resolution No. 858.

“This is among the predicaments many OFWs are facing.  They are being imprisoned for allegedly being “drug mules” or illegal drugs traffickers. The proliferation of OFWs getting imprisoned in different countries on charges of trafficking of illegal drugs should be cause for alarm,” added the solon

According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), there are 630 Filipinos languishing in jails located in different parts of the world (in Asia, in the US and in the Middle East) for acting as drug couriers of high-profile international syndicates. In China alone, there are already 205 Filipinos imprisoned for allegedly being “drug mules”.

A Filipina teacher from Bacolod City named Flory May Talaban is one among those imprisoned at the Bangkok Women’s Correctional Institution in Thailand where they hold women supposedly involved in illegal drugs. According to the parents, Flory May was most probably duped and unknowingly carried illegal drugs when she accompanied her employer in her trip to China. She is a graduate of the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City and she has been abroad teaching elementary school kids who are foreign nationals. Her parents just knew about her situation from a friend, and they have no other way of helping her or know about their daughter’s situation.

“Most of the past drug couriers have generally come from impoverished backgrounds and according to the PDEA there is a current preference of international drug rings for young professionals or office workers with presentable personalities as drug mules, and are less likely to be suspected of the crime, who are lured by promises of free travel, free I-Pads, and hefty allowances. Sixty-two percent (62%) of the “drug mules” are women while 38 percent are men and are recruited through the internet and social networks like Facebook and Twitter,” he said.

“There are cases where Filipinos are duped and unsuspectingly carry illegal drugs to the country of their destination. In one instance, a confessed drug mule admitted that she transported an electric fan but did not know it contained cocaine.

In China, drug trafficking of 50 grams or more of illegal drugs is punishable by 15 years in prison, life imprisonment or death while in Muslim countries, under the Shariah Law, drug trafficking is punishable by death. Currently, there are 75 Filipinos on death row in China. It is with this circumstance that we have to work fast so that no more OFWs will be added to their ranks,” Colmenares said.

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