Sunday, April 3, 2011

Convicted Pinoy drug courier in Thailand to appeal case

Another Filipino detained abroad on drug-related charges will fight to prove her innocence in court, as she believes that she has a strong case.

Flory May Talaban, who is detained in Thailand, is not seeking clemency before the Thai king but has instead filed an appeal before Thailand's second court.

Talaban, 28, disclosed this to her parents who visited her at the Correctional Institute for Female Offenders in Bangkok last March 28, news site Visayan Daily Star reported on Saturday.

Her mother Nede said that Flory May had told them she has filed an appeal before Thailand’s second court.

Rep. Neri Colmenares, who facilitated the visit of Nede and Florentino Talaban to their daughter, said that one has to withdraw one’s appeal in court to avail of a pardon or clemency from the King of Thailand.

Colmenares said that Flory May had said that she does not want to seek clemency because she wants to prove her innocence in court, as she believes she has a strong case.

Flory May is one of two Filipina drug mules facing life sentences in Thailand.

Colmenares said the other Filipino is Icoy Mamontong.

He added that there are 23 Filipino drug mules now detained in Thai prisons.

Thai police arrested Flory May at a Thai mall on May 4, 2009. She was supposedly carrying a book said to have 2.6 kilograms of heroin concealed inside.

Police also raided her Bangkok apartment and found 2.8 kg of heroin there.

The Thai Court found Talaban guilty of “possession of a Category 1 illegal narcotic (heroin) with intent to sell."

March 28 was the first time Flory May's parents were able to see her since her arrest.

Colmenares described the meeting as "heart-wrenching."

But while Flory May and her parents wept, they were denied a chance to hug each other, as they were separated by a glass wall.

Colmenares said he asked the jail personnel if the Talabans could hug their daughter even only briefly.

It was not allowed.

They touched fingertips through a small hole in the glass, he said.

The Visayan Daily Star report quoted Nede as saying Flory May told them that she was sorry if the allegations against her had brought shame upon her family. She insisted she is innocent, and says she will prove it in court.

She told them that, as their eldest child, she wanted to be the one helping her parents rather than the one causing them pain.

Flory May said that at her first trial, she was defended by a court-appointed lawyer but that they had lost their case.

Now she has a new lawyer who had agreed to defend now and be paid later, Colmenares said.

Flory May, 28, quit her law studies at University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City to work as a teacher in China in 2005.

But when she arrived in China, there was no work available to her. She opted to stay after her father suffered a stroke and was forced to retire from work at the USLS as electronic technician.

She told her parents that she had been hired as a tutor.

Colmenares said Talaban's work visa in China had expired so she went to Thailand to renew it from there.

She also went to Thailand where she had been told that many tutoring jobs are available, Colmenares added.

Flory May told her mother that in the Thai village where she was living, she had a Nigerian acquaintance who had asked her to deliver a book to a friend of his when she went to the mall. The man also asked if he could leave a bag at her apartment.

She said she was surprised that while she was at the mall, the police arrested her and found the drugs in the book.

They then asked her daughter where she lived and she told them, Nede said.

Nede said her daughter did not know that the bag left in her apartment contained drugs. If she knew what was in it, she would not have told the police where she lived, she added.

Nede said her daughter has grown thin and has rashes and scars on her face. She is allergic to the Thai food she is eating in prison and sometimes lacks soap, Nede added.— AYA/TJD, GMA News

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