By Aaron Recuenco
Authorities have recovered more than P1.2 billion worth of cocaine in the past two months in different shorelines and territorial waters in Mindanao and Luzon.
P/Col. Bernard Banac, spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the estimated value came from the Dangerous Drugs Board based on the 228 kilos of cocaine so far recovered.
“These are the cocaine bricks that were recovered since February this year up to the latest in Surigao del Norte wherein 40 cocaine bricks were recovered anew,” said Banac.
“Most of those recovered cocaine bricks are from Mindanao, particularly in Surigao provinces and Dinagat Island,” he added.
Based on the initial result of the investigation and coordination with other countries, the cocaine bricks are supposed to be transported to Australia and not intended to the Philippines since cocaine is not popular in the country due to its high price.
Shabu, or poor man’s cocaine, is mostly the preferred illegal drugs in the Philippines— its wide use had catapulted then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to power in 2016 over his promise to eliminate the drugs problem in the Philippines in the first three to six months of his term.
PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde said that based on his discussion with his Australian counterparts, the cocaine bricks that were recovered in the Philippines could be part of a big cocaine shipment last year.
The cocaine shipment, according to Australia, may have been deliberately dumped by drug smugglers after they were caught and chased by Coast Guard and Navy personnel in Australia or neighboring country, or that they could be on board a smaller vessel that sank.
The cocaine bricks that were recovered in the Philippines, according to Albayalde, have similar markings like that of recovered off the waters of Papua New Guinea last year.
The cocaine bricks, with marking like dollar sign and names of expensive European cars, are believed to have originated in South America.
Albayalde said that they expect more cocaine bricks to be washed on the Philippine shorelines since not all of the big shipments have been recovered so far.
The recovered cocaine bricks are now under the custody of the PNP Crime Laboratory.