UN tags RP world’s shabu supply center

Published by rudy Date posted on June 28, 2009

The United Nation’s Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) issued a stinging slap on the face of the country’s anti-drug czar President Arroyo after it named the Philippines a major transshipment point for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and ranked it among the top five sources in the world of the illegal drug.

The UN body said the drug problem in the Philippines remains significant despite continued efforts of local authorities to disrupt major drug trafficking organizations and dismantle clandestine drug laboratories and warehouses in recent years.

Mrs. Arroyo last January assumed the role of the government’s anti-drug czar after the so-called “Alabang Boys” controversy in which apprehended drug pushers from rich Manila families supposedly bribed officials of the court and the Department of Justice.

In its 2009 World Drug Report released on June 24, the Philippines ranked fifth on the UNODC’s list of major shabu seizures from 1998 to 2007, next to China, United States, Thailand and Taiwan.

“The Philippines remains a significant source of high potency crystalline methampethamine used both domestically and exported to locations in East and South East Asia and Oceania,” the report said.

It noted that manufacture of the prohibited drugs often occurs in industrial-sized laboratories operated by transnational organized crime with most chemists being foreign nationals.

The UNODC also identified the Philippines as a major hub for trafficking shabu. From the Philippines, the illegal substance will be first brought to Australia then sent to Canada, and then to New Zealand before reaching its main destination in the United States.

Apart from the UN, the US previously acknowledged the serious drug problem in the Philippines.

The US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, in its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) released by on Feb. 27, 2009, said the Philippines has the world’s highest estimated annual methamphetamine prevalence rate at six percent.

Marijuana, on the other hand, prevails in the countryside, particularly in the mountainous regions, with the help of the religious extremists and communist rebels, who help producers by providing protections, the US report said.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the report was even a commendation for Mrs. Arroyo since it was based on uncovered anti-drug operations and efficient campaigns against illegal drugs.

He cited that upon Mrs. Arroyo’s assumption as anti-drugs czar, the administration had caught the biggest perpetrators and shabu hoard, he said.

”Of course, this is not to say we do not have problems.  The President is leading the campaign and hopefully the agency of government and society will help in solving this problem,” Remonde said.

The US government also linked the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group and the communist New People’s Army to drug trafficking activities in the Philippines.

It said that the two groups “are engaged in providing security for marijuana cultivation, protection for drug trafficking organization operations, and local drug distribution operations.”

Citing reports from Philippine police and military officials, the State Department said the ASG, which has links to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network, continues to provide protection for major drug trafficking groups operating in Jolo and Tawi-Tawi in Sulu province.

It noted that the two groups, which were listed as foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) by Washington and the European Union, are heavily engaged in local drug trafficking activities in exchange for cash payments that help fund their operations.

The ASG, a violent Islamic militant group, is notorious for the kidnapping of foreigners in exchange of huge ransom, beheadings of their captives and series of terrorist attacks in the country, while the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been engaged in an armed rebellion against the government for four decades.

“Many ASG members are drug users themselves,” it said. “Likewise, NPA cadres throughout the country earn money to feed their members by providing protection to drug traffickers and marijuana growers.”

The report, which is published annually, cited corruption among the police, judiciary and government offiicals as an obstacle to Philippine law enforcement efforts against illegal drugs.

It also cited the controversy on the alleged bribery of government prosecutors for the dropping of charges against three young affluent suspects known as Alabang Boys, who were apprehended by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents for drug use and trafficking. –Michaela P. del Callar, Daily Tribune

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