Manila: Justice Secretary Leila de Lima called on the government’s investigating arm to look for the Nigerian national who recruited a Filipina who was executed by lethal injection on July 3 for attempting to smuggle more than 6 kilos of heroin in her luggage to China in 2011.
A wider investigation to be undertaken by the National Bureau of Investigation should lead to the Nigerian recruiter and his syndicate, said de Lima, adding a world-wide investigation of the syndicate can also help stop the rising number of Filipino nationals who are involved in drug trafficking to other countries.
The justice department will coordinate with the family of the Filipina who was executed in Shanghai on July 3, “to get the whole story”, said de Lima.
The Filipina, whose identity was not released, was with a male cousin who was also carrying 6.17 kilos of heroin, when they were in Dubai, before they proceeded to China’s Hangzhou International Airport on January 25, 2011, said an investigator who has gathered data on the case.
Raul Hernandez, spokesman of the foreign affairs department, confirmed that the recruiter was a Nigerian national known for notorious drug pushing activities to various countries.
The Nigerian recruiter was also known as a certain Jarius, another source said.
He allegedly paid the Filipina between $3,000 to $4,000 (Peso129,000 or Dh10,750 to Peso172,000 or Dh14,333) per trip, using a route from Dubai to Hong Kong and China, said Hernandez.
She has been using this route while travelling as a tourist to China, 18 times since 2008, said Hernandez.
“The preponderance of the evidence [against her] was so large that the decision [of a lower court in Shanghai] was to give her a death penalty sentence,” said Hernandez.
There were reports that her family has also sought protection from the government, for fear of their lives.
The family will cooperate with government investigators, the Filipina’s 57-year old father old GMA TV.
“She was tricked,” he added in an exclusive interview.
Investigation could lead to other relatives of the Filipina who might be involved in drug pushing, another source told Gulf News.
Meanwhile, the mother and eldest son of the Filipina have returned to the Philippines, carrying with them the cremated remains of the convicted drug mule, a source from the cargo company which has an office at Pasay City’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport told Gulf News.
The woman “never thought she would be executed. She thought she would be brought home to the Philippines,” a TV report quoted her son as saying.
Her cousin, a first time drug pusher when arrested with her in 2011, was given a two-year reprieve for good behaviour, which could lead to the commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment, said Hernandez.
“We certainly do not want other Filipino families to go through the same experience,” said Hernandez.
Her execution should “serve as a continuing lesson to our citizens not to allow themselves to be victimised and to fall prey to these syndicates,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
In March 2011, Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, and Elizabeth Batain were executed in China’s Xiamen and Guangzhou, for attempted drug pushing in 2008.
In December 2011, a 35-year-old Filipino who was not identified, was also executed for bringing 1.5 kilos of heroin to China. Some 213 other Filipinos are involved in drug-related cases in China, said Hernandez, adding that 28 received death penalty convictions, but one got a two-year reprieve; 67 others were meted life imprisonment; 107, termed imprisonment; and 10 have pending judgment in several courts.
Possession of 50 grams of illegal drugs to China is punishable by death.
Several other Filipino nationals, most of them former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), are languishing in jails world-wide for drug trafficking.
There are about 10 million OFWs worldwide. A major source of government revenues, they sent a total of $21 billion to relatives in the Philippines in 2012.