PHILIPPINE ports remain to be the top entry point of shabu and other prohibited drugs being smuggled into the country, many of them by Chinese drug syndicates emboldened by the country’s lack of death penalty and officials who can be easily bribed, officials said yesterday.
“Since we have not monitored the presence of any clandestine shabu laboratories in the country over the past few years, it is very probable that the drugs are continuously being smuggled into our land, many of them passing through our customs’ zones,” said a veteran Philippine National Police anti-narcotics official on condition of anonymity
Since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016, the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency have joined hands in accounting for billions of pesos worth of shabu and going after Chinese, Mexican and West African drug syndicates who have made the Philippines their base of operations.
The PNP under General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and the PDEA are closely coordinating with the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Ports Authority and the Maritime Industry Authority to thwart attempts of drug cartels to smuggle huge volumes of drugs into the country.
PDEA chair Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva said they are fully coordinating with Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero their anti-drug smuggling efforts. The PDEA and the BOC, along with the PNP Drug Enforcement Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr. have launched a series of joint anti-drug interdiction and controlled delivery operations since the Duterte government launched its vaunted war on drugs.
President Duterte on Monday told Guerrero to “shape up” and even urged the official to “kill” to stop the flow of drugs into the country. “I approved the purchase of firearms and until now wala kang napatay ni isa? Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Shape up. Gusto ko pumatay ka diyan. Tutal back-upan kita e. Hindi ka makulong. Basta droga barilin mo. Yan ang usapan eh,” the Commander-in-Chief said.
Since the early 80s, it is widely believed that “players or fixers” at BOC have had a hand in the smuggling of shabu into the country. Drug smugglers are also believed to be taking advantage of the country’s vast but largely unguarded coastlines to smuggle drugs undetected.
Thus, anti-narcotics agents continue to seize multi-kilos of shabu in tea packs with Chinese markings. In many cases, major drug shipments in the country were foiled by the PNP and the PDEA following information supplied by their foreign counterparts, including those of the United States, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
In 2017, government agents discoveredfive metal cylinders from China containing over 600 kilograms of shabu worth more than P4 billion. An investigation later showed that the drugs were shipped into the country by a syndicate using a company engaged in international sea and air freight forwarding.
It has been assumed that the syndicate paid BOC “players” to provide people who will handle the papers of the drug shipment which was misdeclared as other goods.
Syndicates are also being aided by corrupt public officials and lack of modern technology in smuggling drugs into the country right under the noses of honest-to-goodness Customs authorities.