Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DOLE to OFWs: Don't be sweet-talked into being drug couriers

Recent cases of overseas Filipino workers being sweet-talked into working as drug couriers have prompted an urgent warning from the Department of Labor and Employment.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reminded the workers it is not worth it to be involved in the business, regardless of the financial rewards involved.

"However high the rewards in terms of monetary compensation being offered by these individuals, it is not worth it to be involved in the drug courier business. Avoid them as you do a plague," Baldoz said in an article posted on the government portal.

Baldoz ordered the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices to include in their orientation seminars a strict warning to OFWs against being used as drug couriers.

She said the DOLE is closely working with relevant government agencies dealing with this drug menace.

Baldoz said many OFWs, mostly women, unknowingly fall prey to notorious members of international drug trafficking syndicates.

According to her, it is very unfortunate that some OFWs fall victim to these drug rings, some of which have infiltrated the Philippines with their illegal operations.

Baldoz said OFWs should always be wary of people offering large sums of money for bringing a small bag, box, or any container in or out of the country as a favor.

"Ignorance of what is contained in your checked-in luggage in any port of destination does not exempt you from prosecution and arrest if they find out that these contain contraband drugs or illegal items," she said.

Citing a report of the US Embassy in Manila, Baldoz said there is an increase in the recruitment of OFWs to smuggle cocaine and heroin in and out of the country. The article, however, did not give specific details. 

The recruited OFW drug couriers "transport or smuggle" the illegal drugs to China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. A number of these drug couriers have been arrested and are now facing stiff penalties, including the death sentence, the article said.

"The challenge for the government to address this problem is just too awesome. An inter-agency cooperation in the highest levels is urgently needed to ultimately put an end to these menace," Baldoz said. — RSJ, GMANews.TV

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