Solons want stiffer penalty for drug trafficking

LAWMAKERS urged the government to consider the imposing
stiffer penalties against drug trafficking even as she expressed
concern over the plight of Filipino “drug mules” who are languishing
in jails all around the world.

Deputy Speaker Maria Isabelle “Beng” G. Climaco (1st Distrtict,
Zamboanga City) said the government should take a second look at the
drug problem in the country. “In other countries drug violations carry
the death penalty and hopefully the Philippines would follow,” Climaco

Climaco said the authorities should make a serious assessment of the
implementation of security measures with regard to the drug problem.
“There is the need to review the security systems at our air and sea
ports to allow our drug enforcement agencies to really conduct a
thorough check of all departing and arriving passengers,” Climaco

Climaco urged the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to be more vigilant
in dealing with people whom they suspect of being involved in drug
trafficking. “I am appealing to our kababayans, to be vigilant and be
very cautious about pabaon or padala,” Climaco said.

Climaco said there are about 689 suspected Filipino couriers who were
apprehended in various countries as of January 2011. About 63 percent
of these drug couriers are women.

It was reported that big drug syndicates have shifted their operation
to the Philippines because drug trafficking here is not punishable by

“We appeal to our authorities to screen all outgoing passengers
thoroughly to avoid occurrence of being caught in airports beyond the
Philippines,” Climaco said.

Rep. Maria Milagros Magsaysay (1st District, Zambales) said the
government should take a firm stand on the drug problem to send a
signal to the drug syndicates that it is serious in implementing the
country’s anti drug laws.

Magsaysay said airport and port officials like the Bureau of
Immigration and Customs are not implementing the laws in their turfs.

“There is the possibility that people at the Bureau of Immigration and
Customs are in connivance with some drug syndicates that is why the
drug mules were able to leave the country without being detected at
the airport,” Magsaysay said.
“It is embarrassing in the eyes of the international community that
our OFWs are caught as drug mules in other countries and not in our
ports,” Magsaysay said.

“Poverty is not the only cause of the rising number of drug mules.  It
is the greed for more money and acquiring it at a faster pace even if
it violates the law,” Magsaysay said.

“The bottom line is poverty,” said Rep. Emerenciana De Jesus
(Party-list, Gabriela).  “Women would sacrifice anything for the sake
of their families’ needs.  The vulnerability of women forces them to
engage in all kinds of jobs like, sex and drug trafficking.”

De Jesus explained that poor countries like the Philippines are the
target of drug syndicates since it is easy for them take advantage of
the vulnerability of the underprivileged.

Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (Party-list, Gabriela), on the other hand, said
the pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS) must be restructured and
all OFWs must be required to attend it.

“The present PDOS is defective.  The people at the seminar are only
concerned with the remittances of the OFWs. They do not issue warnings
with regard to drug trafficking and other illegal acts,” Ilagan said.

“The most vulnerable are women because they are promised marriage or
large amounts of money. They are willing to sacrifice and undergo the
humiliating process like swallowing these drugs or putting them in
their private parts in exchange for monetary remuneration for their
families,” Ilagan added.

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