By Niño Luces and Martin Sadongdong
CAMP OLA, Albay – Forty bricks of cocaine weighing at least a kilo each and with an estimated value of P218.4 million was found by fishermen in an abandoned motorized banca floating off the coast of Gubat town, Sorsogon, Monday afternoon.
Police Brigadier General Arnel Escobal, PRO-5 regional director and Colonel Bong Buslig presented the recovered 40 bricks weighing at least 39 kilos of cocaine during the press conference in Camp General Simeon Ola, in Legazpi City, Albay on Tuesday morning. (NIÑO LUCES / MANILA BULLETIN)
Brig. Gen. Arnel Escobal, Bicol police chief, said the bricks were found by Melvin Gregorio, Loubert Ergina and John Mark Nabong, all fishermen from Barangay Bagacay, Gubat.
According to a report from the Bicol Police Regional Office (PRO-5) reaching Camp Crame, Quezon City, the fishermen first noticed the abandoned motorized banca around 12 p.m. Monday so they checked it out.
There they discovered three big boxes and nine small boxes loaded in the banca.
The fishermen became suspicious so they immediately reported it to barangay officials.
The barangay officials then sought the help of Gubat Municipal Police Station after they searched the content of the boxes and found it had chemical substances.
Escobal said the barangay captain of Bagacay reported to the Gubat police station the recovery of the cocaine bricks. The boxes were turned over to the police crime laboratory for examination.
After an analysis and examination conducted by the Sorsogon Crime Laboratory, the police confirmed that the substances were cocaine.
"Na-examine na po ito ng crime lab at lumalabas na cocaine talaga siya. Forty bricks siya, pero yung isa ay residue na lang kaya nung tinimbang natin ay 39 kilos na lang," he said.
Escobal said the cocaine shipment could have come from Latin America and was to be delivered in Australia.
"Ina-assume natin na galing ito sa Latin America kasi doon naman talaga ang may manufacturing ng ganitong droga. Dalawang theory natin dyan, posibleng itinapon sa dagat dahil sa higpit makapasok siguro sa Australia lalo ang Navy nila, o pwedeng sa dagat ang transaksyon kasi nung una, may nakuha kaming homing device na kasama nung narecover na cocaine. Pag-aaralan din natin ito kung kasama ito sa mga naunang narecover na cocaine kasi yung markings ngayon bago lang yan (We assume that these came from Latin America because that’s where this kind of drug is manufactured. We have two theories – it’s possible that those were thrown into the sea because it must be difficult to enter Australia because of their Navy, or the transaction was made in the sea. We had recovered before a homing device that was with the cocaine package. We will also study if this is part of what of the cocaine that was recovered before because the markings are now different),” Escobal said.
Rogelito Daculla, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Bicol acting assistant regional director, said a kilo of cocaine has an estimated street value P5.6 million.
Escobal said the recovery of cocaine in Gubat was the sixth such incident in Bicol since February this year.
"Meron tayong nakuha noong February 10 sa Vinzons, sinundan naman noong Februay 11, sa Vinzons din, February 16 naman sa Paracale sa Camarines Norte yan at sinundan naman noong March 7 sa Baras Catanduanes, nung March 25 sa Bagamanoc naman sa Catanduanes pa din at heto yung latest, sa Gubat, Sorsogon (We recovered last Feb. 10 at Vinzons, followed by another on Feb. 11, also in Vinzons, on Feb. 16, at Paracale in Camarines Norte, followed by another on March 7 at Baras Catanduanes, last March 25 at Bagamanoc in Catanduanes, and this latest one at Gubat, Sorsogon),” Escobal said.
The cocaine found in Sorsogon was the latest in a series of floating cocaine discoveries in the eastern seaboard of the country.
From February to April 2019, the PNP has seized a total of 228 kilos of cocaine worth P1.2 billion.
Police General Oscar Albayalde, PNP Chief, earlier said the cocaine being washed ashore in the country's waters could have been dumped by international smugglers that were part of an illegal drug shipment foiled by Australian authorities in 2018.