GMA News Online

Australia warns nationals: Judicial process in PHL can be lengthy

November 25, 2012 9:04am
Australia has warned its citizens who may have court cases in the Philippines that judicial process in the country can take years to finish, and that some penalties appear to be harsh by Australian standards.

In an advisory issued early last week, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs said: "Judicial process in the Philippines can be lengthy, with some court cases taking years to complete. During this time authorities may place restrictions on international travel."

Also it said: "Australians who are accused of crimes can find themselves in financial and other difficulties while their case is ongoing and may not be able to depart the Philippines until the process has been concluded." 

Australia advised its nationals in the Philippines to be aware that local laws and penalties.

"If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail," it said.

On the other hand, it noted Philippine penalties for drug offenses are "severe," with possession of even small amounts of so-called "soft drugs" meriting mandatory jail sentences.

The Australian government likewise reminded its nationals taking photographs of official buildings for publication is forbidden.

Moreover, it said some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas.

As such, "Australians who commit these offenses while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia," it said.

It added Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism laws, which provide severe penalties of up to 17 years' imprisonment for Australians who engage in sexual activity with children under 16 while outside of Australia.

"The Philippines also has strong laws against child sex crimes and human trafficking. A number of foreigners, including Australians, have been prosecuted for these offenses in the Philippines," it added.

Meanwhile, Australia maintained its warning not to travel to central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu Archipelago, due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, violent crimes and violent clashes between armed groups.

"We continue to advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Mindanao," it added. — LBG, GMA News
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