Death penalty for recruiters of drug couriers sought

By on August 2, 2015

Smuggled illegal drugs (Wikimedia Commons)
Smuggled illegal drugs (Wikimedia Commons)

MANILA — A lawmaker has filed a bill imposing death penalty against recruiters of Filipino drug couriers, many of whom were arrested and languishing in jail in other countries.

Rep. Vicente F. Belmonte Jr. (Lone District, Iligan City) said House Bill 5874 seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 1992.”

Belmonte said despite the continuing campaign of law enforcement agencies against the illicit trade, drug syndicates have become fearless and resourceful in plying their nefarious trade utilizing drug couriers.

“Some drug couriers who were apprehended here and abroad told police authorities that fellow Filipinos recruit them for employment aboard but were later on duped into transporting illegal drugs,” said Belmonte, Chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.

Belmonte said of the 1,288 Filipinos who were arrested for drug-related offenses, 41 are facing the death penalty.

Filipinos who are in the death row include 18 in Malaysia, 21 in China, one in Saudi Arabia and one in Indonesia, Mary Jane Veloso, who was given a temporary reprieve by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Belmonte said.

Mary Jane was apprehended in 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia upon her arrival from Malaysia for transporting 2.6 kilograms of heroin concealed in her luggage.

Belmonte said a Nigerian syndicate based in Malaysia is behind the recruitment of Filipinas as drug couriers to China.

The bill defines recruiter as person who is using his or her influence, power or position in canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring persons to be a drug courier.

Belmonte said the death penalty proposal seeks to amend Section 5, which pertains to the Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals under RA 9165.