By Celso Amo
LEGAZPI CITY --- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency(PDEA) and the Philippine National Police in Bicol said a joint search is now underway along the seawaters and coastal areas of Sorsogon following the recovery of 25 pieces of medium-sized plastic sachets of cocaine worth P125M last January 3.
A local resident found the high-priced illegal drug on the shoreline of Matnog, Sorsogon.
Police Senior Supt. Antonio Gardiola, Jr., Bicol PNP regional director, said the illegal drugs could be part of the cargoes thrown away by the crew members of a Chinese cargo vessel, Jin Ming No. No. 16, which stalled off the coastal waters off Pambujan town in Northern Samar at about 12:30 p.m. last January 2.
Sorsogon can be reached from Northern Samar in 45 minutes through the San Bernardino Strait.
“We asked the help of the Naval Forces of Southern Luzon, the Philippine Air Force to conduct a search on the waters off Sorsogon as well as the Philippine Army, the police and local officials to do the same on the shorelines,” said Gardiola during a press conference Camp General Simeon Ola, here, Friday morning.
Gardiola said a certain Robert Galvez y Frado, 55, found a plastic drum filled with medium-sized plastic sachets filled with white powder wrapped with packaging tape at about 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 2 along the seashore of Juag Lagoon in Barangay Calintaan in Matnog, Sorsogon.
Galvez immediately informed Matnog police on the find and brought the item to Sorsogon provincial police office and later to the PNP Crime Laboratory at Camp General Simeon Ola in Legazpi City for laboratory test.
After coordinating with the Taiwanese Embassy , Gardiola said the Jin Ming No.16 was found to be an undocumented vessel.
“It was a ghost ship and most likely carrying a contraband,” said Gardiola.
A composite team from the police, Coast Guard, the military including the Red Cross responded to the distress call and rescued at about 12:30 p.m. on January 2 nine foreign crewmen composed of one Taiwanese, six Chinese, and two Hong Kong nationals who were identified as Lai Yikui, Xilong Sun, XuWeilong, Sai Cheong Ho, Wu Ning Jin, Chin Hsin Chuan, Xu Xi, Ye Gui Jin, and Hans Ferbie.
One of the crewmen named Ferbie narrated to the authorities that their cargo vessel sailed from China on December 12 last year and was bound for Chile to load cargo.
The vessel was battered by huge waves causing damage to its hull which draws in water flooding the compartments and caused the engine to stall.
The vessel tilted towards the starboard while half its body already submerged slowly sinking while being carried by the current to the municipal waters of Pambujan.
They were able to send out a distress call. The mayor of Pambujan and his town officials are now taking care of the stranded crew.
Christian Frivaldo, Bicol PDEA regional director, said the illegal drugs were verified as cocain.
“It has a Fox-Rock Star logo in front of the brown plastic container which indicates it could come from Brazil,” said Frivaldo during a press conference at the Officer’s Lounge at Camp General Simeon Ola Friday morning.
He said each medium-sized sachet of cocain weighing a kilo is worth P5M.
“We will be receiving a report from the different search groups anytime today or tomorrow,” said Frivaldo.
Nine municipalities in Sorsogon had been alerted.
Bicol is a chokepoint in the illegal network of drug distribution in the country from Mindanao to the Visayas,” said Frivaldo.
He said two Navy vessels will start the search at the waters off Bulan in Sorsogon.
He also said that cocaine consumption in the country ranges from one to two percent.
“I would like to warn the public that cocaine ingestion can cause death due to high acidity,” he added.
Police Senior Supt. Solomon Segundo, Bicol regional chief of the Crime Laboratory, said cocaine has a long life span and fetches higher than the poor man’s cocaine or shabu.
On Dec. 18, 2016 18 medium-sized sachets of cocaine worth P100M were found by two fishermen from Barangay Sogod in Tiwi, Albay.
The cocaine found in Tiwi, Albay and that in Matnog, Sorsogon were wrapped in brown packaging tape.