By Aaron Recuenco
The 88 bricks of cocaine that were recovered off the waters of Surigao del Norte are not intended to be smuggled in any part of the Philippines, a top police official said Saturday.
Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that those which were recovered appeared to be parts of a big drug haul that were purposely dumped into the high seas near the Philippine waters and were supposed to be recovered by divers of syndicates.
“Our initial analysis is that it is not for the Philippines. The area where they were dumped was supposed to be a transient [transshipment] point and they will be transported to other countries,” said Albayalde.
On Friday, a total of 40 bricks of cocaine were recovered off the waters of Siargao in Surigao del Norte. A few days earlier, 48 bricks of cocaine were retrieved off the waters of Dinagat Island.
Chief Supt. Gilbert Cruz, director of the CARAGA regional police, said the bricks of cocaine found in Surigao del Norte are marked with a dollar sign while those fished out of Dinagat are marked with the logo of a popular European car.
“Nakita natin na yung tali na nagho-hold dun sa mga bloke ng cociane ay parang putol kaya lumalabas na parang napigtas ang tali kaya nagka-hiwawalay,” said Cruz.
Albayalde said that cocaine is not a popular narcotic in the country.
While there are some users in the Philippines, he said cocaine is not being patronized by illegal drug users because it is expensive compared to shabu. He said cocaine is popular in the Western countries.
Recently though, PDEA spokesman Derrick Arnold Carreon said with its high demand, shabu now costs roughly P6.8 million per kilo and has dislodged cocaine as the most expensive illegal drug in the country. Cocaine only cost P5 million per kilo.
Albayalde continued that the high waters near the Philippines are being used as transshipment point because the syndicates know that the Philippines and the neighboring countries are having difficulty patrolling their waters.
But he said one of the efforts that were already pushed in the past is to strengthen the joint patrol of Philippine authorities with its Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts.