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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Fil-Am smuggling liquid marijuana into PH nabbed

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Government agents foiled an attempt of an international drug syndicate using the country’s postal system to smuggle liquid marijuana.

On Monday, Customs operatives assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport arrested a Filipino-American and confiscated from his possession a parcel of 30 vape cartridge containing the prohibited liquid substance from China.

The suspect, 27-year-old Hamre Tamayo Orion Alfonso of Wisconsin, USA and temporarily residing at Merville Subd., Parañaque City, was arrested after he claimed the parcel at the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City.

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Based on documents, one Michael Arash Abedzadeh of Shanghai, China sent to Alfonso the said parcel which he misdeclared as chocolates when it arrived at CMEC last March.

CMEC Customs collector Nora Cawili said they notified the consignee regarding his parcel from China and he appeared last Monday to claim it.

Four months ago, Customs agents also seized at CMEC smuggled liquid marijuana from San Diego, California consigned to a minor.

A total of 51 pieces liquid marijuana cartridges were intercepted.

The parcel was declared as pen ink cartridges and candies, and was consigned to a minor who claimed the package three days after Customs agents discovered it.

The parcel was shipped from Santee in San Diego, California.

As this developed, the House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill strengthen drug prevention and control by providing legal presumption and imposing penalties against violators, ranging from fine to imprisonment.

The bill was approved at the Lower House by a total 155 votes from congressmen.

HB 8909, authored by former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, when signed into law, shall amend Republic Act 9165 or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.”

Through this bill, legal presumptions shall be used against those who are found to be importers, financiers, protectors, or coddlers of illegal drugs.

It also stipulates that individuals who shall sell, trade, administer, transport, or distribute dangerous drugs, regardless of the quantity, shall be penalized with life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 up to P10 million.

Meanwhile, an owner or lessor of any property used as clandestine laboratory or used to manufacture and store dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals shall be receive a penalty of imprisonment from six years to 12 years and one day, as well as a fine of P500,000 to P1 million.

Lessors shall further submit a document to the administrative board of their respective local government units (LGU) to avoid their properties from being used for illegal drug purposes.

If a property is owned by a third entity and the same is used as a den, dive, or resort to violate the provisions of RA 9165, criminal liability shall extend to the partner, president, director, or office of the corporation that consents or tolerates the violation.

As for professional and non-professional athletes in any kind of sports, the measure states that they shall undergo a mandatory drug test twice a year. Any athlete found positive for use of dangerous drugs shall be suspended subject to investigation by appropriate government agencies.

“This bill does not only seek to protect our athletes from the harmful effects of performance-enhancing drugs, it will also show that our country does not tolerate the use of dangerous drugs to enhance the performance of our athletes. Furthermore, it will compel our athletes to put in the necessary hard work, discipline and determination to attain success without the use of PEDs,” explained Speaker Arroyo.

In addition, the measure provides that the Dangerous Drugs Board, which is the policy-making and strategy-formulating body, shall now be composed of 20 members, instead of 17.

The Board shall be allowed to engage the services of consultants who are presumed experts in drug abuse and control policies, strategies and programs, as well as research and international drug conventions.

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