Wednesday, June 19, 2019

PCG monitoring shorelines for cocaine

DAVAO. Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao commander Commodore Roy Echeverria says there is a joint effort to patrol the coast of Davao for possible cocaine bricks. (Photo by Juliet Revita)

INVESTIGATION and monitoring of floating bricks of cocaine along Surigao and Davao Oriental shorelines are still ongoing but there has been no lead yet on the source of these illegal drugs, an official of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.

Commodore Roy Echeverria, Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao commander, said in an interview Tuesday, February 26, that there is already an ongoing joint patrol with Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), and local government units to monitor the coast.

To date, how the illegal drugs got to the country’s eastern coast remains a mystery.

“Kung paano nakarating yan [cocaine] sa shorelines natin, hindi talaga natin masabi sa ngayon. We will still conduct investigation as to kung ano talaga ang nangyari tungkol dito (As to how the cocaine reached our shorelines, we cannot say for now how it got there. We will still conduct investigation regarding what happened),” Echeverria said in an interview with the reporters Tuesday.

A total of 36 cocaine bricks with an estimated value of P215 million were recovered by authorities at the shoreline of Purok Talisay, Barangay Santiago, Caraga, Davao Oriental on Sunday, February 24. Three more bricks were found on Monday, February 25.

On Sunday morning, 34 more bricks of cocaine wrapped in packaging tape that washed ashore in Purok Santan, Barangay Bungtod in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

He added, “In fact, everyday intensified yung mga maritime patrols natin, lalo na ngayon. Umiikot yung mga coast guard natin.”

On regular days, there are foreign vessels from different countries that dock in the shoreline, covered by their area of responsibility, once or twice a month. The recent record of a foreign vessel in the area was in November 2018 but they have not monitored any suspicious vessel.

“We have already coordinated with the (Bureau of) Customs para i-monitor yung pumupuntang mga foreign vessels. Perhaps, kung ano pa man ang mga karga nila the next time na may dumating (We have already coordinated with the Bureau of Customs to monitor the incoming foreign vessels. Perhaps, to check what are the cargoes of the vessel next time),” Echeverria said.

Noting that there are vessels passing through the coastal waters, PCG could not inspect those passing vessels as stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

“Under kasi sa International Law, they have the right of innocent passage. Pwede silang dumaan anytime, for as long as they conduct it in good order, wala silang threat sa ating security. Wala tayong pwedeng gawin sa kanila kundi hayaan lang natin silang dumaan,” Echeverria said. April Grace Asgapo and Shaira Mae Panilag, UM Interns, with JCR)


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