Poverty pushes drug mules to crime—prelate

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MANILA, September 10, 2014—A prelate points to grave economic hardship as the reason why more and more Filipinos get into trouble abroad, especially because of drugs.

In an interview over Radyo Veritas, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz said this woeful situation sums up the plight of many otherwise decent yet poor Filipinos who, unable to provide for even the most basic of their needs, find themselves breaking the law as a last resort.

The Philippine Statistics Authority estimates there are around 2.2 million Overseas Filipino Workers all over the world. (Photo: CBCP News)

“This incident only shows how deeply mired in poverty Filipinos are that many have unfortunately chosen to take the law into their hands,” explained he.

While he strongly disapproves of the unlawful means with which these so-called drug mules struggle to get out of the poverty in their home country, the prelate understands what drives them to it, refusing to pass judgment.

“They [drug mules] only want to earn a little money … Of course, I vehemently oppose the wrong they do, but at the same time, I cannot fault them for it,” shared Cruz, who formerly headed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reports that as many as 805 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are involved in drug-related cases abroad, of whom 45 are on the death row.

The outspoken prelate who became a household name fighting the illegal numbers game “jueteng”, stressed many have been drawn to a life of crime out of utter necessity, adding that the sight of one’s starving family is something difficult to take.

According to Cruz, a connection can also be established between extreme poverty and the evils that plague Philippine society today like prostitution and its close cousin, cyber sex.

He laments that some parents knowingly doom their children into online prostitution out of desperation. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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