SENATOR Leila de Lima has called on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and those traveling to and from other countries not to take the law into their own hands in dealing with unscrupulous immigration, police or Customs officers at the airport and instead allow the legal process to take its course.
De Lima made the appeal after President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech before members of the Filipino community in Tokyo, encouraged the OFW’s to “slap” any police, immigration or Customs officer who will try to extort money from them.
“[I’m not kidding, if you go back to the Philippines and a police, Customs or immigration [officer]asks money from you, slap him],” Duterte said in his speech that drew cheers from the audience.
According to de Lima, there are policies in place to protect OFWs and travelers against crooked public officials and resorting to violence would only put them in trouble.
“We already have laws, and if they [public officials], violated the law they should be charged,” she said.
De Lima added that she was not surprised by the suggestion of the President, noting that if he could order his men to kill individuals suspected of being involved in the illegal drug trade, slapping someone is nothing.
The senator, a known advocate of human rights, said OFWs who would heed the advice of Duterte to slap airport personnel who would try to extort money, could even end up being sued for physical injuries by the public official.
She added that OFWs could always ask other airport authorities for assistance in case they encounter unscrupulous immigration or Customs personnel.
“That would be a ground for a warrantless arrest. There is no need to slap them. Arrest them directly,” the senator said.
Duterte, in his speech before Filipinos in Tokyo, said he wants to make life comfortable for them especially when they return to the Philippines.
He added that there is no reason for them to be afraid because he would make sure that all corrupt airport personnel would be removed.