Press Release
February 23, 2011

Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III
Privilege Speech
Drug mules refuted as OFW's

Mr. President, there is a question that is begging to be asked.

The question Mr. President is: What is next, Mr. President? I ask this question, and when I say, Mr. President, I pertain to the bureaucracy in government. That will include President Aquino all the way down to us, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice, and other agencies concerned. I pertain to this particular issue of drug mules, drug couriers. I did not really have the heart to come out with this apprehension about media reports concerning this. But as I said, we have to ask that question now after the fact that the government has sent an emissary to China headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay to ask that the three Filipinos who are supposed to be sentenced to death be given leniency and their sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.

While most of us show our elation over the stay of execution of Filipino drug mules in China, I was hoping that we could look at the realities on the ground and the situation so that we may put it in its proper perspective and adequately look at the different parameters that are involved in this particular case.

Media reports and even the Vice President has been quoted that these three Filipinos are OFWs or what they call undocumented OFWs. I checked, Mr. President, the NBI did, the PDEA did. We asked the records from the POEA, OWWA, and DOLE concerning the records of the three.

Mr. President, they are not OFWs. That is the fact now which I just found out this morning. So, what we are saying here and what we are doing when we do media reports, it is actually insulting the real OFWs. There are millions of OFWs all over the world who are not corrupted. Hindi po lahat pumapatol sa pera ng mga drug syndicate. Ito pong tatlo na tinatawag nating mga OFWs ngayon na tinulungan pa ng gobyerno natin, hindi po OFWs eh. They went there as drug couriers. They were there as drug traffickers. They do not have any records with the POEA, OWWA, DOLE; that they were under contract to go to China for work.

Pati ho iyong sinasabi nilang undocumented OFW, mayroon pong such a phrase but to qualify it, iyon po iyong walang POEA, OWWA, DOLE na papeles o dokumento. Pupunta sa abroad, makakakuha ng trabaho o makakakuha ng kontrata at magtatrabaho. Iyon ang mga "undocumented OFWs". Marami din po noon. Ito pong tatlo, hindi ho nagpunta roon para maghanap ng trabaho. Nagpunta para mag-deliver. Kaya hindi ho puwedeng tawaging OFWs.

Now, do not get me wrong, Mr. President. I am not saying that they should be meted with death penalty, or they should not be shown leniency. No, I will agree with the family members na dapat they should be given leniency.But, ilagay natin sa lugar pagdating sa pagbibigay natin ng report because hindi ho mga OFWs iyan.

Again, we are insulting the real OFWs na nagtatrabaho, nagpapakahirap sila para buhayin ang mga pamilya nila dito. Hindi pumapatol sa ganito.

So, let me again complete the records of the issue. The three personalities who are involved, one Ramon Credo, 42 years old, was caught smuggling four kilos or more than four kilos of heroin in Xiamen in December of 2008. Even four days earlier than that, Sally Villanueva, the other one, 32 years old, was intercepted in the same city while smuggling more or less the same amount of heroin and Elizabeth Batain was arrested in Shenzhen, May 2008, with almost seven kilos of heroin. There was another one, another Filipina around that time, but she was arrested in Thailand, Mr. President.

Now, why am I saying this? Ito pong nangyayari sa atin ngayon, nangyayari sa gobyerno natin, knee-jerk reaction. Noong 2008 pa ho nasentensiyahan ang mga ito. Ngayong 2011 lamang tayo nagkukumahog? And after the three, ano ang gagawin natin?

So, what is next, Mr. President? So, all the 72 Filipinos who are there in China languishing in jail, meted the death penalty, or have been sentenced to death, lahat ng 72 gagawin natin ngayon ito. Hindi puwedeng itong tatlo lamang. Because baka doon sa 72, may mga tunay na OFW. Hindi katulad nito na hindi ho OFW.

I think it is about time that Government really look at the position that we are taking. As a whole, from the mid-2000 up to the present, there are 630 Filipinos being held today for drug-trafficking in various jails around the world: China, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Brazil, even in South America. In China, there are 205.

If we will recall, Mr. President, in July of 2008, I was appointed as Chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board. In August, one month after my appointment, I went to China, met with some of our counterparts in China. I was accompanied by the police attaché of the Philippine Embassy, and we discussed this. During that time, there were more than 200. Right now, there are 205 iyong nasa China.

Kapag tiningnan natin ang mga record, Mr. President, from that time that we sounded the alarm in 2008, and that is when the government during that time, the administration before, came up with a policy which says that: "If you are caught abroad, or if you are caught drug-trafficking abroad, you cannot expect any help from government." It shows to the other countries that we do not tolerate drug-trafficking.

Iyon ho iyong position noon. And I distinctly recall, during those years, iyon po ang nangyari. And then I was informed that there were over 200. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, 283 Filipinos iyong nandoon sa China during that time.

At this juncture, the President Pro Tempore, Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, relinquished the Chair to Senator Zubiri.

But if we look at the records now, 205 na lamang. May mga kasong na-dismiss, may mga na-convict pero na-serve na. Mayroon po silang sentensiyang mababa lamang. As a matter of fact, kung leniency ang pag-uusapan, mayroon pong leniency ang China. May dalawang buntis na pinauwi; the other one was sentenced to life imprisonment; and the other one was sentenced to, I think, 20 years. But when the authorities found out that they were pregnant, they were sent home, not as exchange prisoners. They were sent home. Ganoon po kahusay ang usapan doon. And that was the time that I was there, nag-usap-usap ho kami tungkol doon.

From that time na naghigpit tayo, we sounded the alarm. Mahigpit naman ang airport natin ngayon kung tutuusin. If we will recall, two Cebu Pacific flights were stopped over a year ago before the elections, tungkol din diyan dahil may mga nahulihan ng droga.

Iyong mga sinasabi natin ngayon, I heard it over the radio and from some of the columnists na dapat maghigpit sa airport. Ang pinag-uusapan ninyo ngayon na maghigpit na ay 2008 pa iyan. Lahat ng mga nahuling ito ay 2008 and below.

Records will show that from 2010 to 2011, wala pang 11 ang mga nahuhuli. So, makikita natin na kumonti talaga at hindi sa Pilipinas galing. Sila ay galing sa Malaysia, Thailand, Macau, Hong Kong entering China. Among the drug syndicates, the most notorious is what they call the WADS. The NBI Interpol and the PDEA call them the "WADS"--W-A-D-S. They are the West African Drug Syndicate. Ito po ang pinaka-notorious sa lahat. They really prey on Filipinas in China whose visas are about to expire. Iyon ang tini-tiyempuhan nila. Ito ho ang experience namin from 2007 to 2008. Beyond 2009, I am not so sure about the new style or new modus operandi. It has been very strict. We have busted two West African syndicates from that time up to now. Records of the NBI will show that even up to now, they have in their custody a number of drug mules that have pinpointed some of the members of this West African syndicate.

Now, the modus operandi, as I was saying, is, they will scout for Filipinas whose visas are expiring.

Once they found out who are the ones whose visas are expiring, they will offer them to renew their visa in another country other than China. Of course, they cannot do that there. They will be given a round-trip ticket. The best example is Malaysia, because most of the 205 Filipinos who are languishing in the jails of China came from Malaysia--Filipinas who went to Malaysia. Nahuhuli naman sila nang nahuhuli. Kaya ewan ko kung bakit paulit-ulit sila. They will be given a round-trip ticket to Malaysia, a fee ranging from US$1,500 to US$5,000, depending on how much one will be carrying and complete board and lodging while in Malaysia. Sometimes liligawan pa iyong mga Filipina ng mga Nigerian na ito. Hindi ko maintindihan kung papaano pumapatol sa mga Nigerian iyong iba nating mga kababayan.

But, anyway, that is the techniques. That is what they do. Kapag sila ay pumatol sa offer na ito, usually, they get caught. That is the reason they are being used. Mahuhuli sila, eh. Kung hindi sila mahuhuli, sila na ang titira noon. Sila na ang gagawa noon. Bakit pa sila gagastos dito sa ating mga kababayan?

But, again, in 2008 we sounded the alarm. If we will recall, the POEA, the DOLE, the OWWA, and the Department of Foreign Affairs came up with a massive information campaign for our OFWs that count into the millions all over the world. Hindi po ba? Pati iyong umaalis sa atin dito.

So, the number has been minimized from 2008 to 2011. But the problem now is in our hands. Kumilos tayo rito sa tatlo. Marami pa ang parating na ganiyang kaso na kaso pa noong 2008. So, I think, ito ang pag-aralan natin. What are we going to do with this situation? I ask the question that begs for an answer. What is next, Mr. President?

Ibang sitwasyon ang mangyayari sa darating na panahon. Ang paghihigpit sa security and all these are being done kaya nga kakaunti na lamang.

To complete the statistics, Mr. President. For 2011, dalawang Pilipino lamang ang na-apprehend sa China. Noong 2010, anim na lamang. So, makikita natin na tumalab iyong information campaign. Most of the OFWs, if they find out that this is the situation and this is what will happen, they will not do that.

In the past years, from 2008 to 2011, 11 were sentenced to death; five were given reprieve. We can see that there is leniency in China. Pinag-aaralan din nilang mabuti ang mga kaso. Out of the six remaining death convicts, kasama iyong tatlo that were given a stay of execution through the efforts, of course, of the Vice President.

Ang sitwasyon pala ngayon, according to the reports that I gathered this morning, two were given a two-year reprieve. We do not know what will happen after two years. Usually, they will commute it, or within the two-year period, kapag, shall I say, uminit ang ulo nila ay puwedeng tuluyan? Now, there is still one left in the death row. Siguro, mahigpit ang kaso nitong isa sa tatlo na nasa death row.

Mr. President, my call now and my question has to be answered by the bureaucracy. What do we plan to do? Do we continue with what we did? Mag-kneejerk reaction tayo or we keep a strong-arm attitude. Kung ang isang tao ay involved sa illegal drugs outside of the country, hindi niya puwedeng asahan ang gobyerno dahil parang kinukunsinti siya, especially if he is not a real OFW, hindi po ba? Ganoon po dapat ang kaisipan natin?

Hopefully, the proper Senate Committee can look into this matter. We can probably come up with a real policy on the matter in consultation with the Executive.

Dangerous drugs, Mr. President, is a life-threatening commodity, either for personal consumption or sale to others. Many countries mete out the death penalty for drug trafficking. We, ourselves, even think of the death penalty for illegal drugs, except that the death penalty has been legislated out of our books for the time being, I do not know.

But, again, let us be forewarned about the after-effects of what we have done. It might be good, for these families of those involved. It might be good for the country. I really do not know. I cannot tell, Mr. President.

Kaya lamang mayroong mga bansang napapakiusapan, mayroong bansang hindi. One thing is for sure: Dealing in dangerous drugs is wrong here or abroad.

So, hopefully, Mr. President, we can refer my concern and my question to the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. Hopefully, we can ask the help of the different agencies concerned, like the NBI, PDEA and, probably, the Department of Foreign Affairs.

With that, Mr. President, I thank the Chair for the time given to me.

Senator Estrada. Mr. President.

Senator Sotto. The President Pro Tempore wishes to be recognized, Mr. President. The Presiding Officer, [Sen. Zubiri]. The Senate President Pro Tempore, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, is recognized.

Senator Estrada. Thank you, Mr. President.

Will my colleague from the Vice Mayors' League, the movie industry, and now in the Senate yield for only two questions?

Senator Sotto. Certainly, Mr. President, especially to the Senate President Pro Tempore whose father is a kumpadre of mine.

Senator Estrada. Mr. President, I heard that the gentleman is for the restoration of the death penalty with regard to drug- trafficking. Am I correct?

Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President. Only for drug-trafficking.

Senator Estrada. Only for drug-trafficking. May I know the sense of the Majority Leader with regard to our three drug mules that, in fact, our government went out of its way to send Vice-President Binay to China to talk with the Supreme Court of China to defer or to commute the sentence that was handed down to them.

May I know the sense of the Majority Leader dahil sa pagkakaalam ko, he is for the restoration of the death penalty with regard to drug-trafficking. Kailangan pa bang pumunta ang ating bise-presidente sa Tsina upang makiusap na i-defer o i-commute iyong kanilang death sentence?

Senator Sotto. My difficulty, Mr. President, is, I do not know the details of the case. As a matter of fact, our government is not really well-informed on the details of the three. I just received the background from the different agencies about the three. If we are talking about death penalty for drug-trafficking per se, I will answer in the affirmative, yes.

In the case of the three, as I said, I am not privy to the details of their case, except that I know that they are not OFWs, it will be difficult to say that I should or we should let it go.

Related to the question of the gentleman, I am not too keen in agreeing that we should send the vice president and beg for the three Filipinos.

Senator Estrada. I thank the gentleman for that answer, Mr. President.

My last question will be: If we compare the three drug mules to a congressman who was recently arrested in Hongkong--I will not mention the name of the congressman, not that I am defending that congressman--bakit po mas binibigyan natin ng pansin at tulong itong tatlong Pilipino na sinintensiyahan ng kamatayan, samantalong itong isang congressman ay walang tumutulong mula sa ating gobyerno?

Senator Sotto. Marahil, G. Pangulo, ay dahil sa iba ang sitwasyon. Iba ang mga batas nila. Iba ang batas sa Hongkong at iba ang batas sa Tsina at depende rin sa laki ng dala-dala nila. Nagiging iba ang situwasyon nila. Congressman Singson, I think, was caught with six grams.

Senator Estrada. Is the gentleman identifying the congressman as Congressman Singson? [Laughter]

Senator Sotto. We have parliamentary immunity, Mr. President. The congressman--

Senator Estrada. That I was referring to.

Senator Sotto. --that the gentleman was referring to was caught, I think, with six grams. I do not even think that is punishable by death as far as the laws of Hongkong are concerned. In the case of the three couriers, they were caught with more than four kilos each. The other one is seven kilos. Parang nasa lugar iyong sinasabi ninyo, kung tutuusin, kung bakit hindi tayo tumutulong, hindi po ba?

Senator Estrada. But the government is not lifting a finger to help this congressman. I am glad. Senator Sotto. I also wonder why the media and the public, per se, do not really mind if we do not help the congressman. Kaya nga marami ang naiinggit kay Margarito, the boxer, because he was able to do what other Filipinos wanted to do--to box a congressman.

Senator Estrada. To punch a congressman.

Senator Sotto. Yes, to punch a congressman. But in this case, hindi ko naiisip na pwedeng ipareha. Siguro depende rin sa pagdadala.

Senator Estrada. Kasi sa palagay ko, G. Pangulo, itong tatlong Filipino na nahuli sa bansang Tsina, mayroon pang awa na natitira ang ating mga kababayan samantalang doon naman po sa kabila, they are, I think majority are condemning his actions because he is a public official, he is a public servant and a congressman at that. So, sa tingin ko kaya naman siguro hindi rin tinutulungan ng ating gobyerno ay dahil he has all the powers or he has all the resources to defend himself in court. Samantalang itong ating mga kababayan na mahihirap lamang, na ginamit lamang para maging drug mule, ay walang resources para depensahan ang mga sarili nila sa husgado sa bansang Tsina.

Senator Sotto. Marahil tama kayo. Depende talaga sa pagdadala ng reports. Naunahan kaagad tayo at ang publiko na tawagin silang mga OFW. Kapag sinabi nating OFW, bagong bayani na Filipino 'yan.

Senator Estrada. I agree with the gentleman.

Senator Sotto. Maganda ang pananaw natin sa mga OFW. Naaawa tayo kapag naaapi. Pero marami tayong OFWs. Ito ang punto, G. Pangulo. Marami tayong OFWs ngayon hindi lamang sa China, kundi sa Saudi Arabia, at kung saan-saang lugar na may death penalty na hinaharap--for murder, for rape, for thief--pero hindi tinutulungan ng gobyerno. Bakit sa drug trafficking, tutulungan natin? That is, again, a question that should be asked of the executive department. Marami pong death penalty na naka-pending sa iba't ibang lugar sa buong mundo.

Senator Estrada. We have around 100 OFWs in the death row all over the world.

Senator Sotto. Yes, but hindi tayo umaaksyon doon. Bakit umaaksyon tayo sa drug trafficking na hindi OFW, Mr. President? Senator Estrada. Kasi malapit nang bitayin. They were scheduled to be executed two days ago.

Senator Sotto. Iyon ang malungkot na parte. Sana noong 2008 pa tinulungan na natin kung gusto nating tumulong. Noong naharap sila sa kaso at nasentensyahan, noon pa lamang ay dapat tinulungan na natin sila hindi noong lumabas sa media na bibitayin sila at saka lamang tayo kumikilos. At ang mabigat dito, pati ang report na naibigay sa media, OFW itong mga ito.

Again, to complete the records, I talked with the authorities in China, I talked with the officials of the National Bureau of Investigation, I checked it out with the PDEA, and we checked it out with the POEA, OWWA and DOLE, they are not OFWs.

The other woman was a former OFW but not for this particular case, because her contract was terminated already and she left the contract that she had in Macau.

Senator Estrada. Thank you very much, Mr. President. That is all.

Senator Sotto. I would like to thank the distinguished gentleman for his concern. We know that he is very much concerned as far as OFWs are concerned. I even distinctly remember that one of the movies that gave him the Best Actor award I think was about the OFW, if I am right.

Senator Estrada. Thank you. That was Katas Ng Saudi. [Laughter]

At this juncture, Senator Zubiri relinquished the Chair to President Pro Tempore Estrada.

Senator Zubiri. Mr. President, may I be allowed to interpellate the Majority Leader.

The President Pro Tempore. Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri is recognized.

Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President, to my coauthor of the Dangerous Drug Act when he was in the House of Representatives.

Senator Zubiri. Thank you, Mr. President.

Among our colleagues here in the Senate that I could say are true anti-drugs advocates, I look up to Senator Sotto for being consistent with his anti-drug stand from the very beginning even when he was vice mayor of Quezon City until today. I would like to congratulate him on his stand.

Tama po ang sinabi niya dahil ang dami-dami nating mga OFW na nasa death row, hindi lang OFWs, pati na rin iyong na-kidnap ng Somali pirates, kailan lang. Katorse po sila. They are languishing off the coast of Somalia. We have not given them enough media mileage to be able to garner as much support as these three people who violated drug laws in China. Iyong nagastos ng ating bise presidente papunta sa China, although well-appreciated, because I am sure he had all good intentions--utos po siguro ni Pangulo iyon--pero iyong nagastos po niya roon puwede rin nating gamitin iyon para rito sa ibang OFWs at seamen na nagkaka-problema sa iba't-ibang parte ng mundo.

I do not know if the Majority Leader will agree with me that the weakness that we show in terms of implementing our drug laws is basically the reason why most Chinese drug traffickers and manufacturers have closed shop in China and started the operations in the Philippines. Kasi alam po nila rito medyo nakakalusot sila at pag sila ay nakakulong ay parang hari pa rin sila rito sa ating bansa.

Will the gentleman agree with me on that observation?

Senator Sotto. I definitely agree, Mr. President. I will even give the gentleman a concrete example.

In 2003, a certain Calvin Tan who owns a mega shabu laboratory in Mandaue, Cebu, was caught. He left. He was able to escape. We had to extradite him from Hong Kong. We were successful. He was back. We were able to extradite him. That case had been filed in the RTC of Mandaue, Cebu, from 2003 up to the present. In the last hearing that I attended--mahigit nang seven years, almost eight years na--because I attended most of the hearings of this real, true-to-life drug lord--postponement na naman. Our courts are being abused. The gentleman is absolutely right. The way we handle policies is being abused by the Chinese nationals and by the West African group. That is why the West African drug syndicate has pinpointed the Philippines as its number one source of human resources.

Senator Zubiri. And the gentleman is correct in saying that the drugs that were being carried were not mere ounces. They were in kilos. As a matter of fact, Usec. Conejos came out on TV showing a bag containing four kilos of shabu, napakalaki.

Senator Sotto. Heroin, pareho iyan. The same.

Senator Zubiri. Pati heroin.

Senator Sotto. Yes.

Senator Zubiri. Sa tingin ko naman po pag dinadala nila iyon, alam naman po nila.

Senator Sotto. Isang kilo ay ganito. Iyon ay apat.

Senator Zubiri. Opo. Siguro hindi naman po sila bobo na dala-dala nila iyong bag at hindi nila alam kung ano ang laman nito. But given that, even if they did not know that particular situation, it sends a strong message that we are weak in the fight against drugs. It shows a strong message to the world na dito sa Pilipinas ay mukhang naaawa pa tayo sa drug traffickers. I am sure the good Majority Leader will agree with me that almost 80% of crimes committed today are either drug-related or drug-induced.

Napanood ko po sa TV Patrol at sa 24 Oras noong isang araw iyong tatlong bata--mga bata po sila and I think they were teenagers--pinagsasaksak po nila iyong isang pamilya sa Cainta. Ang balita po ay magnanakaw lang sana sila ng mga kagamitan sa bahay. They were just going to steal furnitures in the house. Nahuli po sila ng bata. Dahil nga naka-droga o naka-shabu, they ended up massacring the whole family. This was just last week. And 80% of the cases in courts, 80% of those are in jail, in the BJMP. Kaya tama po ang posisyon ng ating Majority Leader, Mr. President.

If we do not clamp down on the problem of drugs, we will have a situation similar to Mexico. Ang Mexico po whenever I open my Yahoo! to send mail, sa Yahoo! page, nandiyan lahat ng news. Every week may nakikita po ako riyan na massacre in Mexico. Iyong napakabatang babae na police chief, she was the only one who volunteered as the police chief of this town--notorious for drug trafficking--was killed one month upon her assumption. She was assassinated in front of her daughter, in front of her house in Mexico.

Mexico now has become war-torn. It is now under a state of war. All the drug traffickers who used to operate in Colombia are now operating in Mexico. Ang patayan po nila roon ay massacre, walang namamatay na isa-isa lamang. The recent one was in a--they entered a disco or a club in Mexico, opened fire, killing 18 people in the club. These are Mexican drug lords. They did that to show to the public that they were a force to reckon with. Kaya po sa Mexico, gusto nilang ibalik iyong death penalty. Kasabay po natin noong 2005 na na-repeal iyong death penalty, sa Mexico, 2005 din. And what happened has been an escalation of massacres, of killings, of kidnappings, of death and destruction by the drug lords.

As mentioned earlier by the Majority Leader, we both share the same sentiments but we have to be strong, Mr. President. We have to show a strong face, a strong force, when it comes to the fight against illegal drugs. I will ask the Majority Leader if he agrees with me on this position. What we do not want to happen is that the foreign nationals who suffer severe penalties in different countries would move and translocate their production points in the Philippines.

When the gentleman was the Chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board, was there a possibility that that could happen--and this is happening in terms of apprehension of the different drug paraphernalia and drug laboratories?

Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President. It is a distinct possibility. Even the possibility of narcopolitics growing because of that, is possible. We were very alarmed but the agencies concerned right now, I think, they know what they are doing. We just have to back them up. All of us, everybody should be involved. This is one complex problem that should involve everyone. We should not leave it to the police. We should have the schools, the communities, the government, church, and media. We should all be involved in trying to curb this problem.

As a matter of fact, iyong binanggit kanina ng ating President Pro Tempore, Senator Estrada, iyong awa--depende rin sa paglalahad natin. Kaya dapat ay manawagan din tayo sa ating mga kaibigan sa media sa mga report nila. Sa media, kapag ang hinaylayt nila ay iyong mga dayalog na, "Hindi ko alam kung ano ang ipinadala sa akin, eh." Tapos hinaylayt nila iyong, "Hindi ko alam kung ano iyong ipinalulon sa akin, eh." Maraming naaawa kaagad. Pero totoo ba iyon? Hindi natin alam ang detalye ng kaso. Bakit ang higpit ng China? Ang luwag nila kung tutuusin. China has reprieved many; it has sent many Filipinos home; it has sent many pregnant women home. Bakit ang higpit nila rito? Hindi natin alam ang detalye ng kaso. So, we should be very careful also. Kapag sa reportage ng media ang na-highlight natin, iyong umiiyak ang pamilya at dumayalog iyong tao na, "Hindi ko alam kung ano ang ipinadala sa akin" o dumayalog iyong kamag-anak na "Iyong asawa ko, hindi naman niya alam kung ano ang ipinalulon sa kaniya e." Patay tayo. Hindi natin makakatulong ito, hindi ba?

Senator Zubiri. Oo nga po.

Senator Sotto. Just slightly moving a little on the side, doon po sa issue ng death penalty for drug trafficking na nabanggit din ng kagalang-galang na senador, I am for the death penalty for drug trafficking pero doon sa mga big time. Hindi naman kailangang i-death penalty iyong mga drug pushers na mga maliliit. Hindi siguro because they may be able to reform. They may be rehabilitated, hindi ba? Pero iyong drug lords, hindi puwede, because we have to inhibit them from committing the same crime again. That is the real sense of the word "deter." We inhibit a person from doing the same thing again.

Now, itong mga drug lords na naikulong natin, as a matter of fact, again, I have another concrete example, this fellow Ip Chun Ming, vice mayor pa lamang ako hinuhuli na namin iyon. We were able to put him in jail in Muntinlupa. Talagang drug lord iyon. Taiwanese naman iyon. I found out, after two years, he was operating. Siya pa rin ang nag-o-operate ng drug trade from Taiwan to Manila. Siya pa rin, in jail. Mga cellphones niya. So, when I delivered a privilege speech here in the Tenth Congress, they moved him to Iwahig.

That is why I even had this idea of....If we cannot convince our colleagues to re-impose the death penalty for high-level drug trafficking, lagyan na natin ng qualification-high level drug trafficking. Kung hindi natin sila mako-convince, the other move that we can think of is to establish a national penitentiary for drug crimes. Ihihiwalay natin sila. Iyong puro drug crimes.

Senator Zubiri. Isolate them.

Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President, sa isang lugar na walang cell site.

Senator Zubiri. Cell jammers.

Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President. Talagang walang komunikasyon. Kung baga sa ano e, masahol pa sa Alcatraz.

Senator Zubiri. Ako, papayag po ako riyan, kung ayaw nila ng death penalty.

Senator Sotto. Dapat ganoon. Puwede na iyon. Kung ayaw nila ng death penalty, ito ang magandang solusyon dito sa atin. But then again, as I said, sama-sama tayo. We have to be together. Because this is a different kind of crime, this is a complex crime. And this is such a big business crime. Why are they doing this? Bigyan natin ng example, doon na tayo sa pinaka-small time, pinaka-small time, shabu, methamphetamine hydrochloride.

In the Philippines today, we have approximately 1.7 million drug dependents. Magandang data iyan kasi it comes from a Philippine Normal University Research Institute survey, together with a DILG household survey, conducted nationwide, extensive. Hindi ito survey ng 10,000 lamang o 12,000 lamang. No, it is extensive. I think, if I am not mistaken, about 250,000. Ganoong type, kaya matagal ginawa ito. Dalawang taong ginawa itong survey na ito.

Sa 1.7 million drug dependents, right now, 50% pa rin will be shabu. It is still the number one drug of choice. Mabuti na lamang mahirap ang heroine kasi it is messy, hindi ba? Cocaine, medyo panaka-naka, hindi consistent. Shabu and marijuana, iyan ang one and two. Sila pa rin ang one and two. Noong nagmahal ng kaunti ang shabu, humahabol ulit ang marijuana, ngayon shabu na naman. All right. So, that means, sa 1.7 million, about 850,000 would be regular shabu abusers. Kasi iyong 1.7 million, regular drug dependents iyan. Hindi kasali riyan iyong mga tumikim lamang o nahila ng barkada sa ganoon. Hindi kasama roon. Sa 1.7 million, regular drug dependents talaga iyong mga iyon. So, 850,000.

What is a regular shabu abuser? A regular shabu abuser, conservatively, mga one gram a week, conservative na conservative na iyon. So, how much is one gram? At present, it ranges from about P5,000 to P12,000. Depende sa grade, depende kung saan mo binili. So, on average, ilagay na natin sa minimum P5,000 per gram. One gram a week, conservative po ito. Four grams a month, P20,000 a month, hindi po ba? P20,000 a month times 850,000 runs into billions, correct?

Senator Zubiri. It is correct, Mr. President.

Senator Sotto. Shabu pa lamang iyan, conservative pa lamang iyan, bilyon na. It is such a big business that is why they will always make it available in our homes, in our streets, in our schools, in our workplace, everywhere. Big business sa kanila ito. Kaya tayo, as I have said, hindi puwedeng tayo-tayo lamang o sila-sila lamang ang lalaban dito. We have to put ourselves together to fight this. And, tolerating drug trafficking abroad by Filipinos is farthest from being getting together and fighting this battle. Sometimes, there have to be sacrifices and sometimes we have to show a strong arm to be able to try, cope and prevent our country from being massacred by the problem of dangerous drugs.

Senator Zubiri. Well, my final note, after reading the column of Mon Tulfo, the other day nabasa ko iyong column ni Mon Tulfo, kini-criticize ang ginawa ng gobyerno extraordinarily for these particular drug mules or drug carriers, and said that we should not interfere when it comes to violation of drug laws in different countries. He said that the situation of these three drug mules was different from that of Flor Contemplacion.

Si Flor Contemplacion po noon sa Singapore, noong namatay, binitay po siya sa Singapore, ang defense po niya ay binugbog po siya ng kanyang amo. And, she was constantly abused and she fought back. Unfortunately, when she fought back, she happened to kill the Singaporean as self-defense.

Senator Sotto. Child.

Senator Zubiri. Yes, as a self-defense. Ang nangyari po ay--in this particular case, I may be mistaken the situation, but in this particular case there was clearly an injustice on the crime that was being given to her. Kaya nagkaalarma. Galit na galit po iyong taumbayan, iyong ating mga kababayan doon po sa nangyari kay Flor Contemplacion.

Dito po sa drug trafficking, tama po ang sinabi ni Senator Sotto, one particular case, nilunok po niya. He swallowed, if I am not mistaken 24 tablets or parang capsules na malalaki. Supot ano iyon eh, pardon my friends from saying this, alam ko galit po si Majority Leader dito pero minsan condom iyong ginagamit.

Senator Sotto. Condom talaga ang ginagamit. Iyong nakikita nila sa TV ngayon na pinakikita alam ninyo iyong naka-markings na?

Senator Zubiri. Oo.

Senator Sotto. Binalutan na iyon, binalutan na kasi iyon para lagyan ng markings but that is not the...iyong nasa loob condom lamang iyon.

Senator Zubiri. And, I think, they retrieved that kapag nagdudumi siya sa banyo for a--I do not know what would be a more sanitized term. Kapag nagsi-cr po siya at nagna-number two, iyan kinukuha na nila at process it or sell it or traffick it. So, imposible naman na papalunukin sila ng 24 or 30 round containers na hindi nila alam kung ano ang nilulunok nila. Hindi naman po siguro vitamins iyon.

Senator Sotto. It is correct. At saka may proseso po iyan. Before they are recruited, well, they are recruited and then before they are really asked to swallow these so-called capsules made of condoms, pinapraktis muna sila. They are asked to swallow grapes, buo. Iyon ang pangpraktis.

Bibigyan sila ng grapes, isusubo nila nang buo.

Senator Zubiri. Kung makayanan nila?

Senator Sotto. Oo, huwag nilang ngunguyain lululunin nila nang buo. Kasi, more or less, ganoon ang size noon, mas malaki lamang ng kaunti sa size ng malalaking grapes iyong actual. So, pinapraktis pa lamang sila, dapat alam na nila, hindi ba? Bakit kailangang praktisin pa sila? So, iyon na nga, gasgas na gasgas na, Mr. President, iyong dahilan na "hindi ko po alam kung ano iyong pinalulon sa akin o hindi ko po alam kung ano iyong pinadala sa akin." Hindi pupuwede iyon. Senator Zubiri. So, I agree, I concur, Mr. President, with the position of the Majority Leader that we should go slow in moving heaven and earth to try to appease other governments in the violations of our compatriots or of our countrymen on their particular drug laws kasi baka naman mayroong valid reason. Katulad ng mga drug lords nila na hinuhuli natin dito--mga Chinese drug lords at West African drug lords--ayaw din natin silang pakawalan, kung puwede.

At the same time, I concur and I agree with the Majority Leader na kung hindi natin makumbinsi ang ating mga kasamahan na magkaroon ng re-imposition for drug lords--and I agree with him--let us limit it to drug lords, not just to the petty trafficker in the street, but for drug lords who have the money, the means, the capability, the hoodlums, and the firearms to create havoc within our society. Di, tama po ang sinabi niya. Let us isolate them. Let us come up with a penal system or a penal institution, maybe, not only for drug lords, baka pwede nating isama iyong nagsasagawa po ng multiple murders or massacres para sa ganoon ay baka sapat na po iyon as a deterrent. Dahil siyempre kung wala po silang makakausap araw-araw masisiraan din po sila ng bait. I do not know of anybody who can last months inside the isolation cell. That may be even better punishment than death.

So, I concur with the position of the Majority Leader and I congratulate him for taking such a brilliant and gallant stand.

Alam kong hindi masyadong popular po ito dahil siyempre tayo pong mga Filipino ay naaawa po tayo. Tama po iyan. Iyan po ang tamang salita diyan. Madali po tayong maawa sa ating kapwang mga kababayan that are subject to extraordinary situations. But let us look at their background. Let us study the case and see really if there are merits to the legal process that they had gone through.

Maraming salamat, G. Pangulo. Thank you, distinguished Majority Leader.

Senator Sotto. Thank you, Mr. President. One final thought, Mr. President.

The gentleman is absolutely right. It is not a popular stand that I am taking. But I have to take the risk because medyo matagal-tagal na rin iyong pagtitimpi ko. Ilang araw na ito, eh. Nagtimpi talaga ako because they were trying to get a reprieve.

I deemed it all right to say it now. Total na-reprieve na naman, eh. Na-postponed na ng dalawang taon. Hindi na naman sila papatayin sa Lunes.

So, siguro naman it is okay that I take the risk and call the attention of the government and look into this possibility na dapat po matibay tayo pagdating dito. At kung puwede, we go into the details of that case also. Hindi natin alam ang kaso, eh.

Bringing back the issue of Flor Contemplacion.

My wife did the movie on Flor Contemplacion. As a matter of fact, she won a Best Actress Award for that movie, The Flor Contemplacion Story. If we will recall, they made two endings and they made many portions twice.

One, was the version of Flor Contemplacion and the other was the version of the Singapore government. Kasi, hindi po maiiwasan na mayroong ibang kuwento. Kaya po siguro ganito rin dito sa tatlo. Ang hindi lamang maganda rito ay nauna iyong kuwento na kawawa naman. Totoo namang kawawa naman. Kaya lang, sana naisip nila iyon bago sila pumatol na magdala sila ng apat hanggang pitong kilo ng heroin. Dapat inisip nila iyon at dapat ang gobyerno natin ay isipin din na hindi porke Filipino nasa abroad ay OFW na. Insulto sa mga OFW na tunay na nagpapakahirap, nagtatrabaho ng marangal pagkatapos ang tingin sa kanila ay drug mules.

So, with that, Mr. President, I would like to thank our colleagues for the opportunity that was given me.


(Referral of the Manifestations of Senator Sotto, Senate President Pro Tempore and Senator Zubiri to the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs)

Mr. President, I move that we refer the manifestation and also the manifestations of the Senate President Pro Tempore and Senator Zubiri to the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

The President Pro Tempore. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the manifestations of Senators Sotto, Zubiri and this representation are hereby referred to the Committee of Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

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