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OFW's beware of illegal "padala"


OFWReturning overseas Filipino workers (OFW) were warned last Monday, February 24 by the Middle East chapter of migrants’ rights group against accommodating padala or packages.  It has been our tradition that whenever a returning OFW is set to come back in his or her homeland, a fellow OFW will ask to carry a package to a family member left in the Philippines.  Likewise, family members or OFW relatives here ask the other OFW returning to the host countries to carry a package to a family member working there, basically to save on shipping costs.

However, syndicates took advantage of  these practices.  There have been reports that OFWs have become unsuspecting drug couriers who ask them to bring packages to their destination countries, but unaware that these contain contraband or other illegal items.

Migrante-Middle East were alarmed by these activities that led them to warn the OFW’s of the on-going behavior.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante regional coordinator, said they have reports of OFWs carrying illegal substances.  These OFWs are now in jail facing prosecution.  The modus operandi is often connected with drug syndicates, preying on innocent OFWs.  According to reports drugs can be tucked inside the OFW’s luggage or in a separate bag. It can also be hidden inside the soles of slippers, or stuffed into fabric buttons of clothes.  T-shirts can also be immersed in liquefied illegal drugs and dried before delivery.  Syndicates have also figured ways to hide the drugs.  Like the case of a Filipina that was arrested in 2008 for carrying illegal drugs in a condom tucked inside her genitals. There also have been cases of these illegal substances being sewn inside the Filipino drug mules’ abdominal cavity, which would then be reopened upon arrival at the destination country to retrieve the drugs.  The most recent report was the arrest of four members of a Western African drug ring who tried to recruit three Filipinos as drug couriers by making them swallow capsules containing drugs.

Now what make these OFWs do these illegal activities? It was reported that syndicates offer $500 to $2,500 as payment to the victims. The common destinations are China, HongKong, Macau where trafficking of at least 50 grams of prohibited drugs such as heroin is punishable by death.  Monterona called the attention of immigration authorities in Philippine airports for their sloppy security measures, which allow the drug couriers to leave the country with their smuggling activities undetected.  That is why these OFWs will end up in jail when they arrive their destination countries.

Monterona is urging the government to take these matters seriously in order to put an end to these cruel practice of targeting OFWs, that because of poverty and lack of job opportunities make them grab the chance even though their security and life is at stake.


  • Why our OFWs are always being used? It’s time to protect them.

  • Why our OFWs are always being used? It’s time to protect them.

  • Why our OFWs are always being used? It’s time to protect them.