DONKEY WORK. Despite the name, a drug mule is actually a person who smuggles something with him or her across a national border in exchange for money. AP photoMANILA, Philippines - Just as the world celebrated the United Nation’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Vice President Noli De Castro on Friday revealed that the number of Filipino drug “mules" is increasing.
Citing a report from Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Sonia Brady, De Castro said that a total of 158 Filipinos – most of whom were women – have been arrested for drug trafficking in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau as of June 7.
Drug trafficking of 50 grams or more of highly dangerous drugs like heroin is punishable by death in China and its territories.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier reported that in 2008 alone, 111 Filipinos were arrested for drug-related offenses in the same Chinese territories.
This, the DFA said, was a 594-percent increase from the 16 arrested in 2007.
Of those arrested in 2007 and 2008, 22 are facing death sentence, 12 have gotten life, while 11 have been made to serve 15-16 years prison terms.
De Castro said that all the arrests had stemmed from narcotic drugs being found in the suspects’ luggage supposedly given to them by people they met in a transit country – usually Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Laos, and Vietnam.
He said that members of foreign drug rings give Filipino mules tickets and pocket money to travel to Hong Kong or to mainland China and promise to pay the carriers upon delivery of the drugs to their destination.
The vice president therefore appealed to the public to warn their relatives and friends not to accept any parcel or bag from people they do not know in exchange for money.
“Think twice before you allow yourself to be used as drug couriers as you become an instrument to destroying lives of others. At the same time, you expose yourself to certain criminal prosecution," said De Castro.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has said that it is working on a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to help prevent Filipinos from being used as drug couriers. [See: PDEA moves to shield OFWs from drug rings] - GMANews.TV