By Martin Sadongdong
The government’s intense campaign against illegal drugs has blocked normal routes of entry prompting syndicates to use the sea as the new unhampered route, a scheme described by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Director General Aaron Aquino as “shipside smuggling.”
On Tuesday, 37 blocks of suspected cocaine were found floating by a fisherman off the waters of Dinagat Islands, barely two days after another fisherman fished from the waters of Camarines Norte a package containing 1,000 kilos of cocaine worth P5.44 million.
As of press time yesterday, the Philippine National Police reported that about 40 bricks of suspected cocaine worth P200 million were discovered in Siargao Island.
Gonie Curada, of Purok 2 Barangay Poblacion, Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands found the 37 cocaine blocks while fishing in Sitio Habongan Tuesday and immediately reported his find to the Cagdianao Municipal Police Station, reports reaching Camp Crame showed. The drugs were brought to the Caraga Crime Laboratory Office for testing.
“The PNP commends the good deed of the fisherman for his active participation and vigilance in making his community safe,” PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Bernard Banac said.
The local police have started to comb the coastal area following Curada’s discovery in the hope of finding more packages that were dropped off in Dinagat Islands’ waters.
“Wala pang total weight at total estimated amount kasi meron pa silang ire-recover sa site, and other parts of shoreline, possibly more blocks of cocaine pa (We have yet to determine the total weight and estimated amount [of the items] because they are still recovering more items on the site and other parts of shoreline, possibly there are more blocks of cocaines),” Banac said.
In April 2017, 28 sealed packs of high-grade cocaine worth P162 million were brought to shore by two fishermen in Lucena, Quezon. In January 2018, 24 kilos of cocaine bricks worth P125 million was discovered by a fisherman in Matnog, Sorsogon; and 18.8 kilos of cocaine worth P79 million in Divilacan, Isabela in February 2018.
Recently, government authorities seized 274 kilos of shabu worth P1.9 billion from a Tanza, Cavite warehouse. Two Chinese nationals were killed in a shootout during the raid.
Aquino said the sealed shabu shipment appeared to have been dropped in the waters because the boxes found in the warehouse were still wet.
Aquino said PDEA needs the help of the PNP and other anti-narcotics groups to enforce the country’s anti-illegal laws citing the agency’s lack of manpower and other resources. (With a report from Chito Chavez)