The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) tied up with China’s Fujian Provincial Drug Law Enforcement Agency for a strong stance against the entrance of prohibited drugs into the Philippines.
In a meeting on Tuesday, 21 February, Director Neil Anthony Estrella of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) emphasized the need to talk about and address the illegal drug operations involving China and the Philippines. “This will be the start of the interaction and engagement of the customs of China and of Philippines,” he said.
Deputy Director for Operation Division of Narcotics Control Commission Shen Yu explained that this tie up is a response to the agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during President Rodrigo Duterte’s four-day state visit to Beijing last October 18 to 21. The said MOU supports the Philippine government’s efforts in fighting against illicit drugs.
“We have come to our new relationship after President Duterte visited China. We can discuss how to enhance cooperation in terms of narcotics control between our nation,” Yu said.
BOC, aside from its primary function of collecting the lawful duties and taxes accruing on the imported article, is also responsible for keeping all ports of entry free from smuggling in any forms.
According to reports from the Customs Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force (CAIDTF) for 2016, BOC intercepted 30 illegal drugs shipments; 14 illegal shipments of methamphetamine hydrochloride also known as shabu amounting to P30,093,990.50; five shipments of ecstasy valued at P15,363,000; nine shipments of cocaine pegged at P291,677,691; and one shipment of marijuana at P25,520 — all totaling to P337,160,201.50.
Illegal drugs are transported to the country via fishing vessels and shabu laboratories. Last February 17, BOC seized 320 drums of imported hydrochloric acid known as one of the components in making shabu at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT), Tagoloan Sub-port, Cagayan de Oro.
Deputy Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno of the Enforcement Group said that the top priority of the government is drug enforcement. “We can establish a specific office or person to act as a liason officer of the Narcotics Commission of China. You can expect BOC’s full cooperation because this is our priority – to end illegal drugs smuggling,” he said.
China has partnered with Japan, Australia, and New Zealand in its intelligence sharing against crimes and drugs. Philippines and China agreed to enhance exchange of intelligence and technology in fighting against drug crimes, including the training of operatives and techniques in detecting illegal drugs.#