By Roy Mabasa
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is now conducting an investigation into the reported brief detention of one of its personnel at the Incheon International Airport for possession of cannabis oil.
In a statement, the DFA said it has ordered an inquiry to determine accountability in the unfortunate incident in South Korea on August 2.
In line with its internal rules and regulations, the DFA said concerned personnel were immediately issued Show Cause Orders (SCO), directing the two DFA functionaries to submit their written explanation within 72 hours from receipt of orders.
“The DFA is committed to maintaining high standards of responsibility and accountability among its officials and staff, and we will do the same in this case,” the foreign affairs office said in the statement.
It pointed out that the incident “underscores the risks involved in the ‘paki-padala (please deliver)’ practice and serves as a painful reminder to all to be mindful of security and customs regulations.”
Diplomatic sources who spoke to the Manila Bulletin on condition of anonymity said the courier DFA personnel was supposed to spend a brief vacation in Seoul before flying back to Manila when she was stopped at the Incheon airport.
She reportedly claimed that the cannabis oil was a “padala,” on the request of another colleague whom she has worked with at their previous foreign assignment.
The unsuspecting diplomatic personnel was only released reportedly through the intercession of the Philippine Embassy in Seoul.
Both individuals facing investigations have since been recalled from their post and are now assigned at the Home office.
While the use of CBD for medical purposes is now legally allowed in South Korea, its Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) is imposing very stringent measures for patients to obtain the substance.
Thus, importation without the necessary documentary requirements is deemed illegal and still a crime in South Korea.
In the Philippines, possession of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil is illegal, but patients who need cannabis oil for medical purposes may apply for a special permit with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for “compassionate use.”
The DFA is one of the key government agencies known for constantly advising Filipinos traveling abroad to refrain from accepting carry-on packages or “padala” following incidents of OFWs falling victims to international drug syndicates using them as drug mules.
The DFA declined to name the individuals involved, citing Civil Service Commission (CSC) rules.
“Names may be revealed only once formal charges, if warranted, are filed,” it said.