Labor Secretary Baldoz to OFWs: Don’t Accept Requests for “padala”

A February 17, 2011 press release by the Department of Labor and Employment

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday warned prospective overseas filipino workers (OFW) and OFWs already deployed abroad, not to accept offers or requests from individuals or groups to carry luggage for them during their travel as it may contain substance such as illegal drugs.

“I again warn our OFWs, especially women, not to accept packages or “padala” from anyone, particularly if the luggage item is unknown. These may contain drugs. If they are caught carrying illegal drugs, they will face very dire consequences,” said Baldoz, adding that a number of OFWs had already been victimized and, unfortunately, a few had been willing victims by international drug trafficking syndicates recruiting drug mules for a fee.

The labor and employment chief expressed her concern anew amidst the surge in the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) used in the illegal drug trade.Baldoz said that OFWs, who have sent in a record of US$18.8 billion in remittances in 2010, should be protected from being victimized by drug syndicates as drug mules.

“Earning easy money through the drug trade can never compensate for loss of life in case of death, or years wasted, in case of imprisonment, if any OFW is caught and penalized for carrying illegal drugs,” Baldoz emphasized.

What drug syndicates do is look for drug mules who will deliver the contraband to their target markets,” she added, expressing that drug mules are made to do unsanitary and dangerous practices, such as swallowing small packets of high-grade cocaine.

Reports indicate that drug mules earn between $1,500 to $3,000 for every kilo of illegal drugs successfully delivered to the destination country. The huge amount of money attracts OFWs to join the illegal drug trade and risk getting arrested as long as they get paid.

Baldoz’s warning came after the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) in Beijing sustained a lower court’s decision of sentencing three Filipinos to death for drug trafficking.

Baldoz said the DOLE, in cooperation with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and other key government agencies, is undertaking comprehensive and proactive measures to address the drug mules issue and prevent Filipinos from being victimized by international drug syndicates.

She has already directed Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Carlos Cao Jr. to intensify its information campaign not only on the drug mules situation, but also on human trafficking and illegal recruitment, instructing the incorporation of these in the pre-employment orientation seminar curriculum.