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Prisoner swap not for drug mules—DFA

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Friday objected to the grant of pardon to convicted Filipino drug dealers in the Middle East or be included in the prisoner swap agreement.

“My order to my ambassadors there is to exclude drug dealers from prisoner exchanges. You destroy my people I will...let the law abroad destroy you. Unlike in Indonesia, these dealers were not fooled,” Locsin said in his Twitter post.

Locsin hinted that convicted Filipino drug dealers in the Middle East might have connections in the local drug trade.

“I smell a local connection to the local drug trade,” Locsin said.

 “Sorry. No mercy,” the country’s top diplomat added. 

 Smuggling of large quantities of prohibited drugs in many countries, particularly in the Middle East, Indonesia and China is punishable by death.

 In Indonesia, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso was found guilty of carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin. She was arrested in Yogyakarta airport in 2010.

 However, Veloso denied she was a drug courier, saying she was tricked by her Filipino recruiter into bringing a drug-laden suitcase to Indonesia. The Indonesian government ordered a stay in her execution and turned her into a witness.

 Recently, 95 Filipinos detained in the United Arab Emirates for various offenses were reportedly released in exchange for two Emiratis pardoned by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Meanwhile, a Philippine Airlines aircraft on Friday flew to Lebanon to bring home at least 300 Filipino workers who asked to be repatriated following the recent explosion in Beirut last month.

The PR-8661 flight left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 4:41 a.m. 

“The Department of Foreign Affairs made the charter arrangements with PAL in response to repatriation requests from distressed Filipinos in Beirut,” said PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna.

Early this month, the legacy carrier flew home 361 OFWs from the said country.

Villaluna said the latest repatriation flight would also carry donations from the DFA and the Lucio Tan Group for the benefit of Filipinos residing in Lebanon’s capital city. She added DFA officials will turn over all donations to the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.

PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Gilbert Santa Maria turned over these donations to DFA officials led by Migrant Workers Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Arriola at the PAL Cargo Complex last Thursday.

Donations of the Lucio Tan Group include 27,500 face shields, 3,000 boxes of disposable masks and 1,000 boxes of Vitamin C. The donations from LTG will be added to the 5,000 boxes of relief goods from the DFA. 

The Lucio Tan Group will also distribute 100 cases of Cobra Energy drinks, 100 cases of bottled iced tea, 1,870 cases of Bi-frutas pineapple mango, 50 cases of Vitamilk Banana, 50 cases of Summit bottled water to arriving OFWs of PAL repatriation flights.

Earlier this month, LTG donated to OFWs in Papua New Guinea - through the DFA. Turned over were 1,000 boxes of face masks, 20,000 pieces of face shields and 1,000 boxes of Vitamin C.

Topics: Teodoro Locsin Jr. , Filipino drug dealers , Middle East , prisoner swap agreement
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