Philippines seizes drugs in upscale area, arrests four Chinese

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Philippine authorities said yesterday that they have seized methamphetamine concealed in tea wrappers and biscuit cans in their second-largest drug haul this year in a sign of how the problem has persisted despite the president’s bloody anti-drug crackdown.

Three Chinese nationals and a Chinese-Filipino interpreter were arrested late Tuesday in “buy-bust” raids in an upscale residential enclave and outside a shopping mall in Alabang village in the Manila metropolis, said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Chief Aaron Aquino.

The drugs, with a street value of 1.1 billion pesos (USD20.7 million), were concealed similarly to seizures in Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar, indicating an international drug syndicate was behind the trafficking, Aquino said.

Last month, anti-narcotics agents raided a house in Tanza town in Cavite province south of Manila, killing two suspected Chinese drug dealers in a gunbattle and seizing 1.9 billion pesos (USD36 million) worth of methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant locally known as shabu, Aquino said.

Aquino has called for the return of the death penalty in the Philippines for drug traffickers, better security along the archipelago’s extensive coastlines and more extensive databases of foreign drug suspects for the immigration bureau to deter drug trafficking. Corruption also fosters the drug menace, he said.

“There are those who have been detained for drug offences, for example, in China but they could still enter our country. We have arrested many of those identified foreign offenders here,” Aquino told The Associated Press by telephone.

“The Chinese will never stop putting up drug laboratories because, firstly, there is no death penalty, and secondly, they can buy anybody,” Aquino said. “They can buy judges, they can buy prosecutors and eventually they can go home safely.”

Aquino has also sought legislation to make it easier to criminally charge owners of plush residences, condominium units and buildings, where he said drug traffickers have shifted their bases from more public areas and rural warehouses that have been raided by law enforcers.

In this March 19 photo provided by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Chief of PDEA Aaron Aquino looks at more than 160 kilogrammes of methamphetamine drugs concealed in tea wrappers following ‘buy-bust’ raids in Alabang township, Muntinlupa city east of Manila, Philippines. – AP