Anti-drugs czarina Vice President Leni Robredo is being fed with inaccurate information, such as her claim that most illegal drugs coming into the country are from China or brought in by Chinese nationals.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Undersecretary Aaron Aquino, Robredo’s co-chair at the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), dismissed her pronouncement.
Contrary to Robredo’s claim, Aquino said most of the illegal drugs that have infiltrated the local market came from a large-scale syndicate called the Golden Triangle operating in three countries in Southeast Asia.
“There was a geographical shift some time in 2018, the time when the Golden Triangle drug syndicate emerged in the borders of Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar,” Aquino said in a broadcast interview.
The Golden Triangle, according to him, has “become the biggest distributor of drugs in Southeast Asia “whose reach has also gone as far as Australia, United States and Europe.”
Aquino noted that there might have been a bit of confusion on the part of Robredo since most of the contraband, mainly crystal meth or “shabu,” were packed in Chinese tea bags seized from suspects and that most of those arrested were Chinese.
Cocaine, meanwhile, was mainly smuggled from South America, particularly Columbia and Peru.
Golden triangle as source
“The Golden Triangle has this trademark where many (of the drugs) are packed in tea bags. The Chinese are involved on the packaging. That’s why people mistake them to be from China, but were actually from the Golden Triangle syndicate,” stated the PDEA chief.
He went further by saying that drug syndicates were forced to produce the illegal drugs in other countries because of the strict laws in China against narcotics and the harsh punishments which came with them.
Robredo cited reports given to her by United States officials in making the call for a deeper probe into China’s alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade in the Philippines.
She was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as ICAD co-chair last 6 November.
Immediately after accepting her appointment, Robredo called a meeting with the body.
The Vice President has also met with representatives from the United Nations and the United States.
On Thursday, Robredo disclosed that she has received reports that a big bulk of the smuggled narcotics are from China and such information should be looked into.
Help from any source welcome
She also claimed that most big-time drug suspects are either Chinese nationals or from the Filipino-Chinese community.
Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said the Duterte administration is open to receive assistance from any person, party or country that is willing to help in the campaign against illegal drugs.
“For me and the President, we put the interest of the Filipino first. Let us help each other for the sake of every Filipino,” Go said.
“What is important is that the number of innocent victims of illegal drugs will not increase,” he added.
He emphasized, however, his belief that the problem can only be solved through tough measures and concrete action.
“They will not learn their lesson by mere story. What we need is hard line stance. You need to be strong in fighting illegal drugs,” Go stressed.
The senator added that he welcomes the assistance of the United States in the Philippines’ campaign against illegal drugs, after Robredo discussed the campaign with some US officials on 13 November.
However, he maintained that majority of the Filipino people remains supportive of Mr. Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.