By Azer Parrocha  February 26, 2019

MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday assured distressed Filipino workers abroad that the government will provide them with legal assistance should they get involved in serious crimes such as drug-related cases.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark to clarify President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s warning to Filipino workers against committing drug-related crimes abroad since he would not be able to help them.

Panelo said that while legal assistance will still be provided, the President will not do so much as to personally ask a country’s government for pardon.

“If Filipinos will be engaged in drug-trafficking, he (Duterte) will not lift a hand in the sense that he would be traveling there and asking the President for a pardon,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

“What we can do is just provide lawyers for them. When you provide lawyers, you’re also helping,” he explained.

Panelo emphasized that Duterte, a lawyer himself, is strict in enforcing the country’s laws and would want Filipino workers to follow laws in countries they work in as well.

“What he means by that is he cannot be violating the laws of other countries just like his position that you cannot violate our laws,” Panelo said.

“It will be against our own policy that we are very strict on the enforcement of drug laws pagkatapos sa ibang lugar hindi. Para magingconsistent tayo (and then in other countries, we’re not. We have to be consistent),” he added.

On Monday, Duterte, during the first National Assembly of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas in Pasay City, warned Filipinos against committing drug-related crimes abroad.

“Kaya kayong mga Pilipino sa labas, wag ninyong gawin ‘yan kasi papatayin din kayo doon (That’s why you, Filipinos abroad, don’t do that because you’ll also be killed there). Do not be committing crimes in other countries,” Duterte said.

“I cannot help you and I won’t help you. ‘Yan tandaan ninyo (Remember that),” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is the main agency responsible for protecting the rights and interests of all distressed Filipinos including assistance in the provision of legal advice, assistance in facilitating repatriation, assistance in human trafficking cases, among others. (PNA)