by Hannah Torregoza
December 13, 2015
Independent presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares on Sunday cautioned overseas Filipino workers (OFW) against accepting packages from people they don’t know especially this holiday season.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, made the statement in view of the increasing number of cases of OFWs arrested and detained for transporting illegal drugs.
The senator said stringent measures must be instituted to put a stop to syndicates that use OFWs as drug mules, or carriers of illegal drugs to other countries.
“As of now, there are 807 Filipinos detained in different countries because of drugs,” said Poe, citing data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“In fact, in Saudi Arabia, 30 per cent of detained Filipinos are involved in cases on illegal drugs,” she pointed out.
Poe cited the plight of Filipino drug mules gaining worldwide attention right after the case of Mary Jane Veloso, an OFW who is currently detained in Indonesia.
Veloso was charged and convicted in Indonesia for bringing in more than two kilos of heroin, a high-grade type of illegal drug in 2010.
She was supposed to face a firing squad but at the last minute but was saved after Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered a stop to her execution, following discussions with President Aquino and pending complaints on Veloso’s recruiters.
“We have a lot of countrymen who are recruited to work overseas but are actually used as drug mules, just like Mary Jane. Most of them are transporting illegal drugs without their knowledge while a few others knowingly do so just to be able to provide for their families,” Poe said.
To address this concern, she said authorities should enforce stricter measures to put a stop to syndicates recruiting and turning Filipinos into drug mules.
“Concerned government agencies should work together to solve this problem,” said Poe.