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Gov’t to embark on nationwide info campaign on drug trafficking

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The Philippine government is embarking on a nationwide information campaign on international drug syndicates luring Filipinos to be drug couriers in exchange for a large sum of money.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma, in an interview over government-run Radyo ng Bayan on Thursday, said that information dissemination is one of the preventive measures the government is implementing to avoid Filipinos from getting involved in drug trafficking.

Coloma said the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), is now going around the regions conducting a massive information campaign on the modus operandi of international drug syndicates in a move to avoid more Filipinos from being duped.

“The lack of information allows them to be victims of these drug syndicates,” Coloma said.

He added the PDEA and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are also coordinating with their counterparts in other countries in the fight against transnational crimes such as drug trafficking.

Earlier, Coloma said the PDEA and NBI were successful in destroying the West African syndicate that employed Filipinos as drug mules.

As of Aug. 2010, 626 Filipinos had been arrested for drug trafficking offenses in other countries.

Coloma noted that there is also a need to strengthen the judicial system because there have been a slow progress in drug cases and very low conviction rates for drug crimes.

The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has reported that eight percent of drug cases are dismissed before going into trial, seven percent result in conviction, eight percent result in acquittal, while 76 percent remain unresolved.

The DDB further said drug cases are often dismissed due to technicalities, such as irregularity or illegality of arrest, non-appearance of witnesses, inconsistent testimonies of witnesses, mishandling of evidence, and unreliable police laboratories.

Coloma further stressed that President Aquino has ordered concerned authorities to tighten their watch against drug smugglers in the country’s airports and ports.

“Our government is fully committed to protect the legal rights of our citizens wherever they are but we have to respect the legal system of China,” Coloma said when asked what further actions will the government take after China has sentenced three Filipinos to death row on March 30.

Coloma however said the government is “not giving up.” (PNA)




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