MANILA, Philippines - A Filipina worker who was accused of trafficking drugs in August 2008 was acquitted by the Malaysian High Court and is set to go home, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.
Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Victoriano Lecaros said Armah Candelario was acquitted last June 25 and will be repatriated to Manila.
The DFA said the Malaysian court found reasonable doubt as to whether Candelario had knowledge of the contents of a leather travel bag a friend asked her to deliver to another individual.
Following the acquittal, Philippine Embassy officials said Candelario would be transferred from the Kajang prison to the immigration for her eventual repatriation to Manila.
Candelario’s family members in Manila and Canada have been informed of her repatriation.
The Filipina was originally charged with trafficking of 450.8 grams of heroin and 175.8 grams of monoacetylmorphine in August 2008.
The charge was later amended to drug possession.
Candelario went to Malaysia in September 2007 on the invitation of a Zambian national who she met on the internet.
Records showed that from November 2007 to August 2008, she occasionally traveled to India, China, and Vietnam. During these travels, she brought with her a piece of luggage that belonged to another friend.
Candelario’s acquittal came as Philippine Vice President Noli de Castro reported an increase in the number of Filipino drug mules jailed all over the world. Drug mule is a term used for any person who smuggles illegal narcotics in one’s luggage, clothes, or often using the body as a container. [See: Syndicates sneak, tuck, sew drugs into Pinoys]
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. [See: Number of Filipino drug mules increasing]
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. - GMANews.TV