NBI hunts down syndicate of Filipina drug mule

Ace Tamayo
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says, if drug couriers turn out to be victims of human trafficking too, the anti-trafficking council will join the probe too

HUNT DOWN. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima orders the NBI to investigate and hunt down the alleged recruiter of the executed Filipino national in China. FILE/AFP PHOTO / Jay DIRECTO

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is hunting down the recruiter of the executed Filipino drug courier in China, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed on Thursday, July 4.

In an interview, De Lima said that the order came with an end view of filing charges against the syndicates of the alleged drug mule.

The Chinese government executed the 35-year-old Filipina on Wednesday, July 3, despite an appeal by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. She was the fifth Filipino drug courier executed in China since 2011.

De Lima said if the so-called drug mules turn out to be victims as well of human trafficking, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) will be involved in the case. 

“The IACAT also comes not only in terms of investigative but other services, such as rescue, rehabilitation, psycho-social, etc,” De Lima added. 

De Lima said that, with roughly 10 million Filipino workers abroad, they become very vulnerable to drug syndicates. De Lima added she pointed this issue when she attended the 5th World Congress Against Death Penalty in Madrid, Spain, in June.  

We are joining the global advocacy against death penalty dahil ilan–ilan sa ating mga kababayan ang nalalagay sa ganyang sitwasyon at nasa lugar kung saan may death penalty,” De Lima said. (We are joining the global advocacy against death penalty because there are Filipinos who are put in that situation and they are in places where the death penalty is implemented.)

Read: PH affirms stance vs death penalty

Vice President Jejemor Binay confirmed De Lima’s order, saying that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is working with the NBI.

Tinatrabaho ‘yan ngayon ng PDEA at NBI. ‘Yung doon sa tatlo, nahuli na nila ‘yung recruiter,” Binay said. (The PDEA and NBI are working on it. They have already arrested the recruiter of the 3 [other drug couriers].)

Binay was referring to Mapet Cortez, alias Tita Cacayan, who allegedly recruited Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, one of the 3 OFWs executed for smuggling drugs in China last year. 

Cortez allegedly misled Ordinario-Villanueva into taking what she thought was an empty suitcase that turned out to be lined with more than 4 kilos of heroin.

Binay said the Philippine government did all that it could to stop Filipinos from engaging in the illegal drug trade. He explained that Filipinos, like the one executed, committed the crime beyond Philippine shores.

He added the drug mules would leave the Philippines clean and will acquire the drugs abroad. 

Ang ruta nila usually via Dubai tapos Hongkong tapos doon na sa may area ng Shanghai,” Binay explained. (Their usual route is via Dubai, then on to Hongkong, then on to the Shanghai area.)

The Filipina who was executed on Wednesday was convicted for smuggling 6.198 kilos of heroin into China. She earned approximately P3 million from drug trafficking, based on the findings by Chinese courts.

The woman was arrested along with her male cousin and both were sentenced to death. But according to the Philippine government, the cousin, who was only 27 years old, won a two-year reprieve because he was merely an accessory. – Rappler.com

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