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Friday, May 24, 2019
CAGAYAN DE ORO

Lawmaker seeks probe into cocaine found in Siargao, Dinagat Islands

SURIGAO CITY -- Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers asked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday, February 16, to look into the P540 million worth of 77 cocaine bricks that were washed ashore in Dinagat and Siargao Islands in Surigao del Norte.

Police said 48 blocks of cocaine were fished out off Dinagat Island on Thursday, February 14, and 40 other blocks were recovered along the coast in Barangay Pacifiko, San Isidro, Siargao Island Friday, February 15.

Barbers, chairman of the House of Representatives' Committee on Dangerous Drugs, expressed concern about his province being used as a dumping ground for illegal drugs by foreign and local drug syndicates.

He said the illegal drugs recovered from Siargao and Dinagat Islands and in other places could be part of “narco politics” because the incident happened during the election period.

"It is an open secret in my province that some politicians are involved, directly or indirectly, in illegal drugs operations," Barbers said.

"It is not far-fetched to think that people involved in this have heightened their illegal activity and use their loot for the May 2019 elections,” he added.

Barbers asked PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino and PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to establish the identities of those who dumped the cocaine blocks in the seas, what boat or ship was used, and who were the intended local recipients.

Caraga Police Regional Director Gilberto Cruz in a Facebook post said the police will give one sack of rice for every block of cocaine that resident in the area will find.

Cruz went to Siargao Islands Saturday to check on the confiscated illegal drugs. He thanked the locals for providing information to the police.

Cruz said foreign drug syndicates usually use or attach GPS (global positioning system) to their illegal cargoes, then dump these in Philippine shores, and retrieve them later using local contacts.

"We believe that the strings used to tie the cocaine blocks recovered in Dinagat and Siargao Islands broke loose, thus the blocks were washed ashore,” he said.

Last week, some P5.4 million worth of cocaine were also found floating along the shores of Vinzons, Camarines Norte.

A recent drug bust in a Tampa, Cavite warehouse also yielded P1.9 billion worth of shabu believed to have been brought into the country through "shipside smuggling.”

Aquino said drug syndicates have resorted to this route after the security in all possible entry points – air and seaports -- in the country – has been intensified.

The most recent incidents of cocaine smuggling included the 28 sealed packs of high-grade cocaine worth P162 million discovered by two fishermen in Lucena, Quezon in April 2017; the 24 kilos of cocaine bricks worth P125 million retrieved by a fisherman in Matnog, Sorsogon in January 2018; and the 18.8 kilos of cocaine valued at P79 million discovered in Divilacan, Isabela in February 2018. (PR)


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