The Hong Kong’s High Court on Thursday sentenced Rodela Jardin to 20 years imprisonment for trafficking in drugs after she was caught at the airport with a kilo of illegal drug mixture containing heroine.
A Filipino teacher, on the other hand, was sentenced to death by China’s Municipal Intermediate People’s Court for drug smuggling.
The Philippine consulate general in Guangzhou reported the still unidentified Filipino woman was arrested for trying to sneak in 1,996 grams of heroin at the airport in October last year.
The suspect was carrying the drugs that were concealed in a foil packet hidden under her checked-in suitcase.
The Filipino teacher had been working in China since 2006 and holds a legitimate alien employment permit. Her case will be elevated to the Guangdong High People’s Court for automatic review, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
On the other hand, airport authorities arrested Jardin on June 8, 2010 while trying to sneak in a kilo of dangerous drugs containing 571.76 grams of heroine hydrochloride with a street value of HK $849,267.
Deputy High Court Judge Stuart Moore said the quantity of illegal drugs found in Jardin’s possession warrants an imprisonment of 19 and half years. He added six more months to the jail sentence for the “international element” of the offense or drug importation from overseas.
Jardin claimed she was only trying to return a favor for her free three-day trip and did not know that the package of shoes sent to her for delivery contained illegal drugs.
Jardin, however, admitted that she was stubborn in refusing to allow the inspection of the three shoeboxes.
“I didn’t know the package was illegal. If I knew that the package was illegal why would I accept it? I didn’t know what to say myself, why it happened to me. I can say that I was stubborn or ignorant,” Jardin said.
Jardin said a high school friend had referred her to a certain “Nanay Nene” who has been giving out free trips to “talent girls.”
Jardin claimed that although she had around P200,000 in savings, she wanted to grab the opportunity to visit Disneyland in the former British colony.
“The offer is quite good. It is too good to be true,” she said.
Jardin said Nanay Nene told her to bring a package to her cousin in Hong Kong and she would receive P15,000 additional money when she returns to Manila.
“I refused that money. I did not need it. Free trip is enough for me,” Jardin said.
Two hours before her scheduled departure in Manila, Jardin met Nanay Nene who gave her a sealed package containing three pairs of shoes to put in her traveling bag.
Jardin said she never bothered to check the package inside her bag. She only learned about the illegal drugs when she was arrested by immigration and Customs officers at the Hong Kong International Airport.
At the court, Moore scolded Jardin, a former call center agent in Manila, for falling prey to easy money.
“You have been convicted after trial of trafficking in dangerous drugs. You fell to the temptation of easy money and took the risk which I have no doubt you will be regretting,” Moore told Jardin.
“You were someone trusted by the gang that sent the drugs to you. The sentencing tariff is very clear in Hong Kong... and decided by the narcotic content. There is no real mitigation in this case even if you tried to assist the police in looking for the person who sent the drugs to you,” Moore said.
The Philippine consulate general in China also reiterated its call for Filipino travelers of the strict anti-drug policy of the Chinese government.
The warning came even after three Filipinos convicted of drug smuggling were executed in China last March.
The execution of Ramon Credo, Elizabeth Batain and Sally Ordinario-Villanueva for drug smuggling showed the firm stance of the Chinese government in curbing international drug smuggling, the consulate said.
The consulate general warned Filipino travelers to avoid similar situations in accepting offers from individuals or groups to carry items when going abroad in exchange for money.
Filipino travelers should remain vigilant and responsible in verifying invitations to work abroad which could turn out to be a modus operandi to recruit drug mules. Job offers without proper documentation and working visas should be verified with Philippine authorities.
The DFA said 75 Filipinos facing drug trafficking charges in China were saved from death row when they were meted death penalties with two-year reprieves, which is considered to be equivalent to life imprisonment.
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