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Friday, August 6, 2010

Filipina arrested for carrying illegal drugs at Bangkok airport

A Filipino woman was arrested sometime last weekend at the Bangkok International Airport for allegedly smuggling 4.16 kilos of cocaine into Thailand.

Reports reaching the Department of Foreign Affairs identified the suspected drug mule as Icoy Bethlehem Mamontong.

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Lieutenant General Atitep Panjamanon, head of the Thai Narcotics Suppression Bureau, held a news conference on Monday in the Thai capital to announce the arrest of Mamontong.

The same reports also quoted the Bangkok-based The Nation newspaper as saying Mamontong was "arrested at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport upon arrival from Lima, Peru."

Mamontong, 32, was allegedly "hired for US$4,000 (S$5400) to deliver the drugs to someone in Vietnam," the same publication also said.

As of this writing, the DFA has yet to comment on Mamontong's arrest.

The foreign office has been warning Filipino travelers against acting as drug mules in exchange for huge sums of money from illegal drug syndicates.

In February, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Administrative Order 279, which created the Anti-Drug Couriers Task Force to prevent Filipinos from being used as drug mules.

The body, co-chaired by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the DFA, is tasked to develop programs to prevent the recruitment of Filipinos as drug couriers and to closely coordinate for the apprehension and prosecution of drug trafficking syndicates operating in the country.

The task force also groups the Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, Manila International Airport Authority, and the Philippine Tourism Authority as members.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr. earlier said the government is taking proactive measures to address the issue.

Conejos reminded Filipino travelers to "be extra wary of accepting offers from individuals or groups to carry illegal drugs in their luggage when going abroad."

"We warn our countrymen not to accept packages which they suspect are illegal drugs. If they are caught carrying illegal drugs, they will face very dire consequences," he said.

Conejos noted that in the People's Republic of China, drug trafficking of illegal drugs is punishable by jail terms of at least 15 years, life imprisonment, or death.

On the other hand, the offense is punishable by death under the Shariah law in most Muslim countries.

A check with the DFA disclosed that nearly 200 Filipinos cited in drug-related cases in China.

At least six of them have been meted the death penalty without reprieve, 35 others face life imprisonment while 56 have been serving fixed jail terms.

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