THE THREAT of President Rodrigo Duterte to remove Vice President Leni Robredo from her “anti-drug czar” post if she disclosed “confidential information” on the war on drugs came in the wake of her statement that most illegal drugs in the Philippines come from China.
So what if most shabu and cocaine come from China?
Take it from the “defensive” Senate President Vicente Sotto III who reminded her, “The Chinese government has the same headache that we have. Meth precursor substances might be coming mostly from China but it does not mean their government is behind it. We should be careful lest we insinuate such.”
Sotto echoed the statement of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino – Robredo’s co-chair in the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) – who had said, “The main source of course depends on the illegal drugs. Meth or shabu in the past were mostly coming from China, but not now. Most are coming from the Golden Triangle region which borders Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar.”
Thus it puzzles us that the President’s war on drugs remains focused on users and small-time drug dealers whose “elimination” would hardly matter.
To prove Chinese involvement, let us go down memory lane. Let us remember that day (July 27, 2016) when President Duterte visited a military camp where he told the soldiers and police, “Where is the big fish? If you want them, go to China. Look for them there.”
Surprisingly, one of the President’s visitors earlier in the same month was his kumpare Peter Lim. Malacañang, however, never reacted to reports that he was the same Peter Lim who allegedly heads a sub-group within the Chinese Triad.
“Triad,” according to Oxford dictionary, is “a secret society originating in China, typically involved in organized crime.”
On Sept. 22, 2016, a composite team of Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operatives raided a “piggery” in Mount Arayat, Pampanga where they uncovered an industrial-sized laboratory capable of producing at least 200 kilograms a day of shabu. The raid netted Hong Wenzheng, a 39-year-old Chinese national from Fujian, China.
We therefore thought the PNP and PDEA were capable of bagging Chinese drug lords until a month later (October 2016) during a trip to Beijing when the President announced his “separation” from the United States and declared that he had pivoted to China despite the latter’s refusal to abide by the decision of the United Nations’ Arbitral Tribunal that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to several disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Years before Duterte came to power, five Triad groups were reported to be operating in the Philippines, namely the Big Circle Gang, United Bamboo Gang, 14K Gang, Ghost Shadows and San Yee on. They laundered drug money abroad through the shadowy “Binondo Central Bank.”
The present Triad big bosses – based in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau – are believed to be the organizers of large-scale drug trafficking from mainland China.
The Triad’s Philippine connection merited heavy publicity in 1997 during the Fidel Ramos presidency when the police arrested a certain Fred Tiongco in Quezon City, seizing 419 grams of ephedrine and high-powered firearms.
Resourceful researchers on the internet would still discover Tiongco’s connections with a powerful Filipino senator.
They would also remember the forgotten former civilian police agent Mary “Rosebud” Ong who vainly witnessed against another senator as the brain behind the abduction and summary execution of at least three suspected Chinese drug lords in 1999. ([email protected]/PN)