Press Release
August 31, 2010

Press release of Senator Sotto

Senate Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III is urging the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide for a mechanism to discourage overstaying migrant Filipino workers from falling prey to international drug syndicates as "couriers" or "mules", in exchange for a huge sum of money and prolonged stay abroad.

Sen. Sotto's call was in the light of the admission made by DFA during the Senate foreign relation committee's organization meeting on increased number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), mostly Filipinas who have been apprehended, charged and convicted in China after having been victimized by the international drug rings.

Of the 60 cases recorded by the DFA so far, 95 percent are Filipinas and at least two of them are already in the death row, DFA Assistant Secretary Jose Eduardo Malaya said.

Information reaching Sen. Sotto, former chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), showed that there more than 200 OFWs as of last year confined in China embroiled in drug-related cases.

A Nigerian drug syndicate operating with drug mules strategy in China usually looks for Filipinos or Filipinas whose visas, whether work or other types, are expiring and offer a round-trip ticket and an extension of their visa, with pocket money, the senator said.

"That's why it's very inviting. They can renew their visa and it's given to them for free. And they even have money on the side," Sen. Sotto said.

The Majority Leader is hoping that the DFA could draw up a system to help OFWs in their visa renewals, to dissuade them from even considering of being drug mules or drug traffickers.

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