>CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Luzon has described as “prevalent” the recruitment of drug couriers in three areas in the region.
Because of this, the PDEA regional office is deploying its agents to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) here “to give sharper teeth” to its anti-drug courier campaign.
PDEA regional director Ronald Allan Ricardo declined to say how many agents will be assigned to the airport.
But he said the number would be “enough to be of help to the DMIA security force in ensuring that no drug courier or drug mule enters or exits the country via Clark.”
Ricardo cited reports that recruitment of drug couriers is prevalent in Bulacan, Pampanga and Subic and that the recruiters mostly belong to West African drug syndicates operating in the country.
“One strategy of these recruiters is to make recruits, specifically women, their intimate partners, who are later taught to recruit as many as 50 drug couriers per single recruiter,” he said.
Ricardo said the recruiters lure victims by offering them at least $2,000 for a certain number of recruits.
China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand are among the usual destinations of drug couriers, he added.
In China, Filipinos who were caught while apparently acting as drug mules are now facing the death penalty.
Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president Victor Jose Luciano said he fully supports the PDEA move to deploy agents to DMIA.
CIAC is the government corporation that runs the international airport here.
“The country may be lacking in terms of detection devices, but with intensive manning and strict inspection procedure at our airports, the PDEA expects that a decrease and eventual elimination of drug couriers will be attained,” Ricardo said.
He said PDEA is also into massive information campaign in the region against drug mules, tying up with the Philippine Information Agency.
“The drug courier problem emanates from an emerging trend in transporting illegal drugs using Filipinos, and this poses a major concern for our government,” he said. – With Ric Sapnu