De Lima alarmed over unprecedented cocaine hauls in Bicol, Mindanao


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed alarm over the unabated dumping of bricks and containers of cocaine in Bicol and Northern Mindanao regions.

De Lima, the staunchest critic of the administration’s war on drugs, questioned the Duterte administration’s seeming bland response to the smuggling of tons of illegal drugs into the country and its indifference in going after big-time drug lords.

“Imbes na tuluyang mapigilan at matukoy ang mga nasa likod ng pagbabagsak ng ilegal na droga sa bansa, tila ba hindi ganoon kaseryoso ang pagtutok ng gobyerno sa isyu kaya tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang ganitong kalakaran,” she said.

“Libo-libo na ang pinatay nilang mahihirap sa ngalan ng War on Drugs ni Duterte, na diumano’y nahulihan ng kapiranggot na ilegal na droga, pero kapag maramihan at bilyon-bilyon na ang halaga, pinapalampas lang at walang pinapanagot ang gobyernong ito,” she added.

Last May 27, three fishermen reportedly recovered 12 boxes of cocaine worth PhP218 million off Gubat town in Sorsogon province – the latest in a series of floating cocaine hauls off the country’s east coast.

The fishermen, identified as Melvin Gregorio, Loubert Ergina, and John Mark turned over the haul to police, which later confirmed in laboratory tests that the recovered items, weighing a total of 39 kilograms, were indeed cocaine.

In 2019 alone, PNP data revealed that over 100 kilograms of cocaine have been recovered in the waters off the country’s eastern seaboard, particularly in the provinces of Aurora, Quezon, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur in Luzon, to the Dinagat group of islands in Caraga region, Davao Oriental, Surigao Del Norte, and Surigao Del Sur in Mindanao.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, is also alarmed at reports that the Philippines is being used by illegal drugs syndicates to transport illegal drugs.

“With the repeated incidence of cocaine haul in our waters, it appears that our government is clueless on what it should do about these problems,” she said.

“The government should investigate this matter seriously, discuss its action plans and act accordingly because we cannot allow our beloved country – our home – to simply be relegated as the passageway of illegally-shipped items in Southeast Asia,” she said.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency reportedly suspected that it was looking at Mexico and Colombia as possible sources of the blocks of illegal drugs found in Sorsogon. The agency also suspected that the Philippines was used as a transshipment point for the cocaine packages that could have been bound for China, Hong Kong, and Australia.

dented cocaine hauls in Bicol, Mindanao

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