Migrante hits Tulfo over call to withdraw legal aid to OFWs accused of drug trafficking

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Manila, Philippines – Migrante Hong Kong chided anew Sen. Raffy Tulfo over his remarks calling for the government’s withdrawal of legal aid to OFWs accused of drug trafficking charges abroad.

During the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers hearing discussing Senate Bill 1448 wherein it is required for new lawyers to provide legal services to OFWs, Sen. Tulfo said as quoted by CNN Philippines, “I hate drugs, I hate drug addicts, I hate drug pushers. Alam na ngang drug trafficker,  drug courier yet pinagtutuunan ng pansin ng ating gobyerno, binibigyan ng legal assistance.”

He also said as quoted by Migrante Hong Kong, “Imbes na tulungan natin ang mga drug trafficker na sertipikado at nahuli naman, i-focus na lang natin doon sa mga walang kasalanang OFWs na na napagbintangan lang at wala namang kasalanan.’ ‘

“So frustrating, coming from the chair of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers.’ Dolores Balladares Pelaez, United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) chair said.

Reacting further, she said that innocence should be presumed until proven otherwise, especially in cases of drug trafficking. ‘

“All the more that these OFWs need help, as drug trafficking cases usually involve deceitful circumstances. As with Mary Jane Veloso’s case, for example, she was flown to Malaysia under false circumstances, and so was transported to Indonesia with a luggage of drugs, unbeknownst to her. Would you call her a certified drug trafficker? Is that a cut-and-dried case? Of course not,” Pelaez added, expressing her disgust over the senator’s statements.

Sen. Tulfo also reportedly said, ‘Nagdala ka ng drugs, nilagay mo kami sa kahihiyan, bakit ka namin tulungan pa?’ Balladares Pelaez said, ‘Isn’t it more embarrassing to be in power, yet do nothing to help someone in need? Isn’t it more embarrassing to accuse someone of wrongdoing without proper investigation? Isn’t it more embarrassing to be a representative of the Filipino people, yet refuse to help your own nationals in foreign lands?’ she ended.

More than half of 4000 reported in jail in 2017 were drug related according to government data.