Drug mules: a new nickname for OFWs?

During former President Gloria Arroyo’s (GMA) term, we referred to Overseas Foreign Workers (OFW) as our “Bagong Bayani” or “Our new heroes.” Earlier in the year, some economists gave OFWs credit for boosting growth in the economy due to their “higher remittances” the country received from the millions of Filipinos working abroad. The question is, where do the OFWs get the money that they send back to the Philippines?

I know most Filipinos have legitimate contracts in various industries abroad but I ask the question simply because according to a recent news report, there are currently 630 suspected Filipino drug mules worldwide. Is being a drug courier now becoming a lucrative trade for Filipinos who are desperately trying to earn a quick buck? It is beginning to look like it because I am sure that there are many more people — not just Filipinos — who carry and hide illegal drugs in one form or another and make it through the customs gate undetected.

I guess you can say that the 630 Filipinos languishing in jail overseas were just those unlucky enough to get caught. The fact that there are so many drug syndicates luring people into this kind of activity is proof that there are more successes than failures in transferring drugs from one country to another using drug mules.

According to Derrick Arnold Carreon, public information director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), in China alone there are 250 Filipinos being detained in different prisons in the country. And out of the 250 Filipinos, 75 are already on death row. The sentences of three Filipinos on death row will actually be carried out soon and the Philippine government is in a race against time to save their lives.

Unfortunately, it seems no amount of government or divine intercession can stop the Chinese government from carrying out the death sentences. These Filipinos broke the law on foreign soil so the law of the land must be applied to them. It is as simple as that. Besides, I do not understand why the Philippine government had to wait until the last hour before they appealed for leniency.

Why did President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) think of sending an envoy with his signed letter of appeal only now? It goes to show how inclined PNoy is towards taking a reactive rather than a proactive approach to doing things. He acts just like an IT support person whose only solution is to recommend switching your computer off and on again every time you call them for help. He always gives his instruction too without leaving his desk or without enough show of concern.

PNoy’s idea of sending Vice President Jejomar Binay to Beijing as a last ditch effort to save the lives of the three Filipinos is at best an effort that is too late and at worst, too uncoordinated. It is so annoyingly naïve of this current administration to think that an emotional appeal would be enough to reverse the decision handed down to those who break the law especially in a country where laws are taken seriously. What were they thinking?!? The Chinese authorities are the last people who would want to be seen as flip-floppers. And we all know that the thought of spending time in jail does not deter stupid Filipinos from doing illegal activities. Their mentality is usually along the lines of: as long as you are not caught, it is ok. They can’t even think beyond themselves.

Too bad for PNoy that his efforts to appease China by boycotting the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in Oslo did not work in helping the situation.

The message from China was quite simple. No amount of prayer can change their mind particularly since they don’t believe in pleas for help using compassionate grounds:

In a press statement, the [Chinese] embassy said, “The death sentence on the three Filipino drug traffickers is the final verdict by the Chinese judicial authorities in accordance with law. As criminals of death penalty, their legitimate rights and interests have been protected in accordance with law.”

The embassy said, “The Chinese side has informed the Philippine side of the SPC’s decision through diplomatic channels.”

“The Chinese law prescribes that any person, no matter that he or she is a Chinese citizen or a foreigner, who commits crime shall be brought to justice in strict accordance with law. No one is privileged to transcend law,” the embassy said.

The embassy said drug-related crimes are “bitterly detested by the international community, China and the Philippines included.”

“China follows strict judicial procedures in applying death penalty. A death sentence should be meted after two-tier trial and subject to review and approval by the SPC,” the embassy explained.

The Philippine government could actually learn from the Chinese government. The minute we impose harsh sentences on convicted criminals, the better our society will become. Of course this is in supposing that we actually have a competent and reliable judicial system.

I am not suggesting that we bring back the death penalty. I am just saying that the whole impunity culture should be wiped out from our mentality. We can be so forgiving to high profile criminals in our society that regular folk emulate their behavior with the thought that they too can also get away from doing time when they do the crime. It is why most Filipinos who languish in Philippine jails are the ones who don’t have enough money or resources to keep themselves out of jail.

Filipinos who commit such crimes as drug trafficking in other countries are worse than pathetic. Not only do they risk ruining their own lives and their family’s lives, they also ruin the entire Filipino people’s reputation abroad. The more Filipinos caught smuggling drugs, the faster our reputation for being drug mules will get around. Customs officers will learn to look at Filipinos with suspicion at airports and other entry points because of our penchant for always looking for ways to make a quick buck. Aside from being known as the “world’s domestic helpers,” Filipinos will now be known as “drug mules.”

They say that most of those who fall prey to drug syndicates are those who come from poor families. It does not make any sense though for these people to ruin the last chance they have of uplifting their status by working as drug couriers. It does not help that Filipinos belonging to this socio-economic class are too gullible for their own good. They would rather believe in get-rich-quick schemes instead of working hard to achieve economic stability.

I wonder how PNoy and his minions are going to solve this problem involving the OFWs? It seems that similar to the past administration, PNoy is also relying heavily on them to keep the economy afloat. Never mind that most of the Filipinos who go abroad as domestic helpers are abused and preyed upon by opportunists — sometimes even by their own kababayans — who also scam them off their hard earned dollars.

Unfortunately for OFWs, PNoy’s government has demonstrated far too many times in less than a year that they are the worst administration in Philippine history when it comes to handling diplomatic relations where OFWs are involved. PNoy even has a penchant for offending members of the Asian region with a string of gaffes committed to Hong Kong, Taiwanese and now Mainland China.

Who can forget PNoy’s bungling of the relationship with Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Donald Tsang during the Mendoza hostage crisis last August 2010? And more recently, PNoy has managed to offend Taiwanese officials by deportating of 14 Taiwanese nationals to China, a move that prompted the Taiwanese government to threaten to send home Filipino OFWs working in Taiwan.

The situation in the country now is no way better than the situation during GMA’s term. More and more Filipinos find themselves in desperate times to the point of having to accept “deals” from people who promise them richness the way PNoy promised everyone that “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”

The condition of the poor during PNoy’s term will most definitely not improve since he has not introduced any new economic reforms that will create more jobs for the people who need it most. His term will just be another waste of time and waste of taxpayer’s money.

In light of what is happening to our reputation abroad, is it still appropriate for the government to insist that the OFWs are the “bagong bayani” of the Philippines? If you ask PNoy he might just refer to them as “bagong Kabuwisitan.”


Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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53 Comments on "Drug mules: a new nickname for OFWs?"

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I read a joke in a local newspaper and its not funny: The Aquino Government is trying hard just recently, to save 3 Pinoys (drug mules) from execution in China. While in Africa, 135 filipino seafarers are being held hostage by Somali pirates and our govt is not showing any sign of action to save them. Now forgive me for being brisk about the life of a human being here, but how can you compare 3 convicts to 135 victims?! If youre gonna save the convicts, save the victims too for cripes sake. Is it because theres more media ATTENTION… Read more »
Inhumane as it can be but China’s decision to stand by the death sentence of 3 Filipino OFWs in Beijing remain, and Pres. Noynoy Aquino is trying to ask for clemency of the three to reduce the gravity of the sentence to life imprisonment. However it sends a different message when it comes to the Philippines’ implementation of law, PNoy’s leadership abilities as well as the plight of our so-called “new heroes” , not just in China but around the world. For one thing it shows that we can’t even handle cases like these at our home country and the… Read more »

About the issue with the deportation of Taiwanese to mainland China, in the general sense, it is wise to side with the Mainland rather than Taiwan. However, this particular case could be handled better by anticipating possible retaliatory moves by Taiwan. For instance, Taiwan moved to halt OFW deployment to their land. Therefore, it would have been prudent to ask first from the Mainland assurance that they can provide jobs to the OFWs that may be displaced. However, moves like these would require certain amount of goodwill, which has been diminished by the hostage-taking incident at Luneta.


“The situation in the country now is no way better than the situation during GMA’s term. More and more Filipinos find themselves in desperate times to the point of having to accept “deals” from people who promise them richness the way PNoy promised everyone that “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” — Pero bakit walang nag-ra-rally? Naubusan na ng yellow cartolina?

Each passing day the costs of basic commodities, fuel, water and electricity are rising. The UN has sounded the alarm of a looming global food crisis but what has the government done to address or mitigate the effects of these problems? Nada, zilch, nothing. Everyone is enthralled by the spectacle at the Senate and nobody’s minding the store. Is it a wonder then that more and more OFWs are being lured to become drug mules for the drug syndicates? These are desperate times and times like these require desperate measures; must be some people are just so desperate to be… Read more »

im just wondering, why is the current investigation focuses on the plight of the OFW drug mules?, why is no one in the media ever ask the question on why  the NAIA people failed to detect this drugs? it seems people are too busy treating the effect again, and not the cause! IF only the NAIA people will do their job, then our OFW will not be anymore a favorite target to be drug mules…and all this sh*t will be minimized if not totally eliminated.

UP nn grad

I hope Binay won’t get surprised if, in his trip, Beijing speaks forcefully about Quirino Grandstand-2010, UsecPuno, others.

Hyden Toro
Drug Mules are people, who are used by Drug Syndicates to carry illegal drugs to target market countries…These Drug Mules mostly come from poor countries. In the U.S. , Most of the Drug Mules are illegal immigrants, crossing the U.S.- Mexican borders. Most of the immigrants come from Mexico, and other South American countries. They are paid sizeable amount of money in their services; they are given False Immigration Papers, to enable them to work in the U.S.; and they have Guides called: “Cajotes”, that provide them with safe houses, and directions in their new lives in the U.S. This… Read more »
Mike Lim
Ilda. Isa sa companies na meron tayong OFW ay ang Tim Horton ng Canada. Mahusay naman magtrabaho ang mga Pilipino. Ang nakakataka sa halip na magkakampi at magmahalan ay sila pa ang laging away ng away. Kaya nga halip na Pilipino ay mga Mexicano ang kinukuha pag kailangan ang additional na employees. Kulang tayo talaga ng pangaral sa pagmamahal sa kapwa o kaya nahahawa na ang mga tao sa away ng mga politico. Kay President Aquino naman ay aminin na nating na walang kakayahan siyang pamunuan ang ating bansa kaya magkaisa na tayo na magkaroon ng constitutional reforms. Pabigat na… Read more »
Nice one Ilda! Filipino reputation abroad is as pathetic as our economy at home. The only country on earth where most Filipinos are regarded highly is probably the United States. Everywhere else, people look at us as uneducated, toilet cleaners, yes sir, no ma’am, domestic helpers, sexually and physically abused, cowards, afraid of the corrupt system in our own country, so we’d rather leave the Philippines and allow the rotten ruling class take advantage of our stupidity. By all means Ilda, write something about reviving the Death Penalty. Can you imagine had Erap been executed? But no, it’s in our… Read more »
Poppy Seed

I’ve decided to visit this site to check out what’s happening in that country and suffered a horrible headache after reading about the Binay appeal.

Things are not going as well in the city I live in. Two unrelated homicide incidents.



The Lazzo

Talk about “soft and forgiving.” Quite simply put this a culture that can’t say “no.”

I mean, if that guy asks you to ‘take something back to [wherever]’ for him at the airport, just say NO GODDAMMIT. Even if he knows what you look like, even if he frowns or hurls insults at you, it’s not like he can read your passport or ticket. Just keep fucking walking.

Mike Lim

Ilda, tama ka na ang mga Mexicans are “somehow look like us too” kaya nga kung tawagin tayo ng mga Espanyol ay “Indio” . Di ba? Kaya lang may “bad connotation” ito. Para bang ang ibig sabihin nito ay Istupido.


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