MANILA, Aug. 1 — To intensify its campaign against illegal drugs, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will set up a Seaport Interdiction Unit (SIU) in all of its regional offices nationwide.
“To effectively and efficiently curb trafficking of illegal drugs through the ports, it is deemed necessary to establish a dedicated unit to guard these avenues,” said PDEA Director General Isidro S. Lapeña, citing the agency’s Memorandum Circular No. 2017-030 dated July 24, 2017.
The functions and responsibilities of these interdiction units are as follows:
a. Prevent the entry and exit of illegal drugs through seaports;
b. Conduct seaport interdiction operations that deal with the identification and interception of smuggled contrabands;
c. Conduct validation and investigation pertaining to the illegal drug activities in the seaport;
d. Take the lead role in the joint investigation of cases resulting from anti-drug operations in ports;
e. Process and analyze information on passengers suspected to be involved in drug-related activities as well as shipping companies suspected for smuggling dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs); and
f. Establish a comprehensive information collection plan that shall enable the Agency to obtain information on illegal drug activities from different sources.
“All concerned Regional Directors shall identify their priority seaports for the establishment of SIU and shall assigned personnel to carry out its functions,” Lapeña added.
According to the country’s census, with 7,107 islands, the Philippines has one of the longest coastlines in the world which stretches 36,289 kilometers. It extends 2,000 kilometers from Batanes to Jolo encompassing 25 major cities located on the coast. It is also estimated that more than 60 percent of the Philippine population lives along the coast.
“Our country’s archipelagic nature provides only two ingress and egress ways. Besides air, international drug trafficking organizations has to go by water to cover the Philippine market. We need to seal off our waters from becoming transit and dropping points for large volumes of illegal drugs,” the PDEA chief said.
In 2008, 744 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, were intercepted in Subic, Zambales, while 433 kilos of shabu were also confiscated in the area in 2014.
Recovery of 590 kilograms of cocaine, which were dumped from a Chinese vessel in the coast of Eastern Samar, was likewise recorded in 2009.
Last July 12, 2016, a floating shabu laboratory was discovered and dismantled off the coast of Zambales.