Taiwanese vessel under close scrutiny over cocaine dumping
By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY ---- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is looking into the involvement of a Taiwanese vessel in the dumping of 24 kilos of cocaine worth P125M that was washed ashore at the shorelines of Barangay Calintaan, Matnog town, according to Christian Frivaldo PDEA regional director. Frivaldo said they are investigating reports that the recovery of the cocaine at the shorelines of Matnog could have come from a Taiwanese vessel Jin Ming16 that according to the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) is in their watch list for alleged illegal activities using nautical routes in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippine waters. Jin Ming16 made a distress call while sailing the rough sea on Wednesday off the waters of Northern Samar when it tilted and nearly sank. The nine crew members, six of whom are Chinese nationals, 2 are from Hongkong, and one from Taiwan, are currently in the custody and being investigated by local authorities in Samar. Frivaldo said they have coordinated with other foreign embassies and offices when TECO responded and reported that the vessel is on their watch list. Frivaldo said they are still investigating whether the dumping of the 24 kilos of cocaine was really intended for Bicol or that it could have been made while the crew were unloading cargoes when their ship was about to sink. “At the moment we are looking at the possibility that the distressed vessel is responsible for the dumping of the recovered cocaine, based on TECO report the ship was involved in illegal activities considering that it was not detected by our naval authorities after it intentionally turned off its positioning system to evade detection,” Frivaldo stressed. “No local contacts of this ship were established or identified as of the moment,” he added.