20 March 2010 – A Filipino tourist mistakenly detained for alleged drug smuggling in Melbourne, Australia has been released.
In a joint statement issued last 18 March, the same day Filipina Maria Cecilia Silva was released from jail, the Australian Customs and Australian Federal Police called the incident “regrettable”.”
They confirmed the decision by the Magistrate Court of Melbourne ordering the release of Ms. Silva after the result of forensic testing on the iced tea packets she brought to Melbourne proved negative for drug traces.
The Court awarded her AUD 5,000.
The Philippine Embassy in Canberra, in a media statement, urged the Australian Customs to implement measures to ensure that similar mistakes do not happen in the future. The Embassy said it does not only cause distress to the person involved, but also to the relatives back in the Philippines.
For her part, Ms. Silva conveyed her thanks to Consul General Uriel Norman Garibay for the quick assistance, coordination and close monitoring of her case.
Ms. Silva arrived at the Melbourne Airport on March 13. She was detained by Australian Police on suspicion of bringing into the country the prohibited drug amphetamine allegedly inside iced tea packets.
The Police allowed her to call the Philippine Embassy though Consul General Garibay who assured her that the Embassy will extend to her all the necessary assistance.
The Embassy then advised Philippine Honorary Consul General to Melbourne, Mr. Raul Hernandez, to visit Ms. Silva and to coordinate with the Australian authorities for the speedy resolution of her case.
The Embassy also called Ms. Silva’s sister in the Philippines to inform her of the situation.
The Embassy, the Philippine Honorary Consulate, and Ms. Silva’s friends in Melbourne coordinated closely to work on her immediate release.(Source: www.dfa.gov.ph/)