Philippines tightens net on African arrivals
Manila - Philippine airport immigration officials have tightened monitoring of arrivals from Africa after a spate of arrests of drug mules from the continent, a spokesperson said on Saturday.
The increased vigilance at all airports was imposed after two Ghanaians were caught on March 13, bringing to eight the number of Africans stopped at Philippine airports in three weeks while trying to smuggle in illegal drugs.
"This is not discrimination. They will not be treated poorly. We are just asking our immigration people to be a bit more vigilant," said Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Maria Antonette Mangrobang.
If a new arrival cannot fully explain why he or she is coming to the Philippines, immigration personnel can bar them from entering, she said.
Mangrobang said she could not say why so many Africans, including nationals from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Guinea, had recently been caught trying to smuggle illegal drugs into the Philippines.
The drug enforcement agency said it has arrested 38 members of African drug syndicates since last year, and information obtained from them led to the capture of 14 accomplices abroad.
Most of these have been caught trying to smuggle the illegal drug methamphetamine hydrochloride, popularly known as "ice", into the Philippines.