‘Floating cocaine’ not really for use of Pinoys —PNP

AS they destroyed an estimated P2.25 billion worth of cocaine found in different shorelines in the country since last year, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Philippine National Police authorities have maintained that the drugs were really not intended for Filipino consumers.

PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, said that the 276 floating ‘cocaine bricks’ found in the country’s eastern seaboards could have really been intended for shipment to Australia and not for the Philippines as the country is in the bottom list of cocaine-consuming countries across the globe.

Gen. Albayalde maintained the country is not a consumer of cocaine. “Those cocaine bricks apparently were just dragged by the sea current to our territorial waters. They are not new shipments since most of the package already had barnacles or sea shells, all indication that they were not new,” he said.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2016 listed The Philippines as in the bottom 14th out of the 112 countries with known cocaine consumption, the Journal Group learned.

Last week, PDEA chair, Director General Aaron N. Aquino led the destruction of the 276 blocks or 331.066 kilograms of cocaine, with an estimated street value of 2.25 billion thru thermal decomposition in a special facility in Trece Martirez City, Cavite.

The ‘cocaine bricks’ were discovered floating in the different shorelines of Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Davao Oriental, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands.

Aquino said the cocaine bricks were part of the nearly P6.06 billion worth of dangerous drugs they destroyed  on orders of the court.

The PDEA chief had earlier raised the possibility that the ‘floating cocaine’ being recovered in the country’s territorial waters was a ‘diversionary trick’ of drug syndicates to smuggle more illegal drugs.

“The floating cocaine incidents are merely diversionary tactics. While all government forces are focused on operations to retrieve the floating cocaine, we believe drug syndicates may take the opportunity to smuggle shabu. They were willing to sacrifice P125 million worth of cocaine to smuggle P11.15 billion worth of shabu. It is because the Philippines is not a cocaine-consuming country. The number one drug of choice here is shabu,” Aquino said.

The PDEA chair said that “the country is just being a transshipment point for illegal drugs with international drug syndicates dumping cocaine in our waters considering the loose security in our vast and porous shorelines.”

The UNODC listed the Top 10 countries with highest cocaine use as the following: Albania, Scotland, United States, England and Wales, Spain, Australia, Uruguay, Chile, Netherlands and Ireland.

Citing information provided to him by his Australian counterparts, the PNP chief said the cocaine bricks which washed  ashore in the country’s eastern seaboard appears to have come somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and not for delivery to the Philippines.

The cocaine bricks were found in Dingalan, Aurora, Barangay Villamanzano Norte in Perez, Quezon; Bgy. Bagumbayan in Paracale, Camarines Norte; Vinzons, Camarines Norte; Cagdianao, Dinagat Island; San Isidro, Surigao del Norte; Tandag City in Surigao del Sur; and Bgy. Santiago in Caraga, Davao Oriental.

Gen. Albayalde said the Australian Federal Police (AFP)  in particular are looking into the possibility that the cocaine bricks recovered here could be similar to those found in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea last year.

Last week, another cocaine brick weighing more than a kilo and valued at over P7 million was discovered floating in the waters of San Jose, Camarines Sur, the latest drug haul in Bicol region this year, said Police Regional Office 5 director, Brigadier General Arnel B. Escobal.

Last  May 27,  Escobal said  policemen acting on a tip from  fishermen in Gubat, Sorsogon recovered 12 boxes containing some 39 kilograms of cocaine worth P218.4 million.

Last May 17, a cocaine brick worth nearly P5.5 million was also recovered by two fishermen in Bgy Nagcalsot in Rapu-Rapu, Albay. The drugs were immediately turned over to the local police.