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Palace may help drug suspect in Malaysia

The government said it was ready to extend free legal assistance to a Filipino woman arrested in Malaysia for allegedly trafficking 5.9 kilos of “shabu” (crystal meth) as she may be only an “innocent courier,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Thursday.

On the other hand, President Duterte continued to face criticism for his call to restore the death penalty in line with his drug war.

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“The government will provide [the detained Filipino woman] with free legal assistance to protect her rights as she is a Filipino citizen. She could be an innocent courier and not a drug pusher or drug trafficker,” Panelo said.

“But if evidence proves that she is deeply involved in drug trafficking, then we will let the law take its course,” Panelo also said.

Mr. Duterte’s spokesperson made his remarks following reports that the 32-year-old woman was arrested in a drug raid in Kota Kinabalu.

There are presently 48 Filipinos on death row in Malaysia.

Panelo said, “If she is found guilty unfairly by the Malaysian court, then we can avail of legal remedies available under the Malaysian legal system to exonerate her.”

‘Lives sacrificed’

Families of suspected drug offenders who were killed by the police slammed Mr. Duterte’s call to restore the death penalty in his State of the Nation address on Monday.

“What the President should do is to stop his bloody and brutal war on drugs. There are so many lives that have been sacrificed for this war, including the innocent,” said Normita Lopez, mother of 23-year-old epileptic Djastin who was killed in an antidrug operation for “resisting arrest” on May 18, 2017.

“If the death penalty was imposed for heinous drug crimes, would its implementation be fair? Would the drug lords be included or would it only target the poor?” she said.

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Djastin’s killing was among the cases that the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers submitted to the International Criminal Court as part of its complaint of crimes against humanity in the conduct of Mr. Duterte’s drug war.

In April, the Office of the Ombudsman had ordered the dismissal of and the filing of a murder charge against Police Staff Sgt. Gerry Geñalope, one of the officers in the operation that killed Djastin—the first decision of its kind from the Ombudsman.

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TAGS: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Salvador Panelo, shabu
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