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Duterte won’t help Pinoys committing crimes abroad

28 February 2019

President Duterte speaks at an assembly of barangay leaders in Pasay City. 

Filipinos committing crimes abroad could not expect assistance from the Duterte administration, specifically for acts involving illegal drugs.

“To the Filipinos outside (the country), do not do that because you will get killed. Do not (commit) crimes, your crimes in other countries. I cannot help you and I won’t help you. Remember that,” President Duterte said in a speech at an assembly of barangay leaders in Pasay City last Monday.

The statement came as rumors flew thick in Manila that death-row inmate Mary Jane Veloso had been executed in Indonesia. Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has, however, denied the rumors.

“No, no it’s not true,” AGO spokesperson Mukri was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post on Sunday. “There have been no [executions]. Just wait for information about the next round.”

Veloso’s Indonesian lawyer, Agus Salim, confirmed that she was still being held at the Wirogunan women’s prison in Yogyakarta.

Veloso was sentenced to death by the Sleman District Court in Yogyakarta in 2010 after being caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in her luggage at Adisutjipto International Airport.

She was set to be executed during the wave of executions in April 2015 but was granted a last-minute reprieve after a woman came forward in her home country to admit that she had duped Veloso into smuggling drugs to Indonesia.

While warning Filipinos overseas that he would not bail them out of criminal offenses, Duterte also threatened foreigners that they would not be spared if they bring illegal drugs to the Philippines.

“Whether as a drug lord, I do not care if you are from China, if you are from Taiwan, if you are from Malaysia. If you come here and you do that (bring illegal drugs), I will really kill you,” Duterte said. 

“I will make this statement very, very clear. I promised you that at this time of our national life, it is the time during my time that it would be very, very dangerous for anybody to do drugs,” he said.

As of the end of 2016, at least 4, 000 Filipinos, including 140 on death row, were languishing in jails across 52 countries and territories, according to a report from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

As to reason for incarceration, illegal drugs topped the list, responsible for putting 2,265 Filipinos in foreign jails, with 1,131 in Malaysia, 459 in Saudi Arabia, 146 in China, 106 in United Arab Emirates and 63 in Italy. 

Of those facing drug charges, 473 were Filipino women, including 50 jailed or facing prosecution in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Seeking to clarify Duterte’s statement, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the president would not travel to another country to seek the pardon of Filipinos who committed crimes.

“What he means by that is he cannot be violating the laws of other countries, just like his position that you cannot violate our laws,” Panelo said. 

“Now, if Filipinos will be engaged in drug trafficking, he will not lift a hand in the sense that he would be traveling there and asking the president for a pardon. What we can do is just to provide lawyers from them,” he added.

Panelo said helping Filipinos involved in narcotics goes against the Philippines’ campaign against illegal drugs.

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