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. May 2019, at 08:10 UTC / Updated

By

Jareen Imam

The mother of a US citizen behind bars in the Philippines on drug charges fears his life.

Orion Alfonso Hamre Tamayo, 26, was arrested on May 20 after approaching a local customs office to collect a package. The package whose sender Tamayo says he does not know contained 30 vials of liquid THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana.

President Rodrigo Duterte's government is taking a tough approach to drugs. According to official figures, over 4,900 drug traffickers and users were killed in police operations between June 2016 and September last year. The country's prisons are also overcrowded with conditions that are often poor.

Tamayo has been accused of drug smuggling according to state department.

His mother, Davina Stewart, is convinced of her "happy happiness" and "very soft hearted" son is innocent.

"This is absolutely scary and heartbreaking," told Stewart NBC News from his home in Bloomington, Minnesota.

She described Tamayo as trust, loyal and even naive

"I think his life is in danger," she added. "This has been a nightmare."

Orion Alfonso Hamre Tamayo via Facebook

Stewart has spoken to his son by telephone since his being held in a cell of the Philippine drug criminality agency in Quezon City, she says.

Tamayo, a double American and Filipino citizen, has never had an influence on the law, according to his mother.

In 2011, he moved to the Philippines at 18:00 to go to college. Tam ayo loved the country's culture so much that he decided to stay after the end of his mass media studies.

Despite being arrested, Tamayo told his mother that he should not worry.

"I think everything is fine. It just takes a long time because there is a proper process, everything is," said Tamayo in an answering machine, he left Stewart. "I'm okay. Sorry you had to hear this."

The Prime Minister said it was monitoring Tamayo's case and providing consular services.

"In a foreign country, US citizens are subject to the laws of the country, although they differ from those in the United States, a state secretary said.

NBC News contacted the Philippine drug crime agency to comment on Tamayo's case but has not yet received a Answer

Human Rights Watch has condemned Dutert for what it is described as a "murderous" war on drugs. ""

The New York-based group added: "The exact number of deaths is difficult to determine because the government is not has revealed the publication of official "war on drugs" documents. "

Raymund Narag spent nearly seven years in a Philippine prison after being mistakenly charged with murder after a 1995 fights between brothers at the Philippine University. He was acquitted.

Narag, 44, is now an adjunct professor at Southern Illinois University

He said that the average prisoner in the Philippines spent 592 days in prison before being sentenced.

"Some people wait 16 years for a trial," Narag added, working to reform the country.

Abigail Williams contributed.


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