MANILA – The Philippine Embassy in Madrid has yet to get the details of the 20 Filipinos arrested in drug busts in Spain.
"We requested the authorities to inform us about the identities and other useful information of those allegedly arrested for drug trafficking," said Consul General Emmanuel Fernandez.
Fernandez explained that it usually takes 72 hours for authorities to process the identification of detainees.
"The other important thing that we need to let the audience know is that here in Spain, a detainee has the right to invoke her right to privacy of information," he said. "Right now, we don't have any details as to their personal backgrounds".
Even if the embassy makes a formal request to authorities but the detainee decides to keep her right to privacy of information, "then there's nothing we can do".
However, the embassy learned from its informal sources that most of the 20 arrested Filipinos have already acquired Spanish citizenships which Fernandez said "will further add to the complications of getting information regarding their personal backgrounds".
"Here in Spain, Filipinos have an easy way of acquiring Spanish citizenships. The required residence is about 5 years. After 5 years, they can apply to become Spanish citizens and our informal sources tell us that there is very great likelihood that these 20 Filipinos have availed of such privilege," he said.
The raid was conducted in the areas of Madrid, Barcelona and Murcia. Fernandez said 32 people were arrested in Madrid and five each in Barcelona and Murcia.
"It looks like the drug problem is becoming rather serious in Spain," he said but added that there is no indication that authorities are focusing their efforts on certain racial groups like Filipinos or Africans.
"It’s a general campaign to forestall the further spread of drugs in Spain," he said.
Fernandez said the embassy has tapped several platforms to continue to discourage Filipino nationals from being involved in the illegal drug trade.
"Every possible platform has been availed of precisely to discourage our nationals from engaging in this trade," he said.