ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said on Tuesday, March 22, that the provincial government is offering cash rewards to anyone who could provide information leading to the recovery of illegal drugs smuggled off the waters of the province.
The bounty was raised after fishermen in the province found five bricks of suspected cocaine worth at least P30 million on different days this week, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
At least three bricks of alleged cocaine with an estimated value of more or less P15 million were seen floating between the seawaters of Abulug and Ballesteros towns on March 21, said the anti-narcotics agency.
The following day, March 22, fishermen also found two more bricks of suspected cocaine in Fuga village. Authorities said that the two bricks, which weighed more or less three kilograms, were worth around P15.9-million.
Authorities said that all the bricks found by the fishermen were wrapped in plastic and sealed with packaging tapes and black rubber. The containers bore the emblem of a Columbian football team.
PDEA said that the five bricks were brought to the regional laboratory for examination to “determine whether the recovered items are illegal drugs.” The agency, together with local police, had conducted follow-up operations, believing that there could be more of the drugs drifting in the sea.
“We are urging the community to report to authorities [if they see] similar containers…that might be washed ashore or found floating in the seawaters not only in Cagayan but regionwide as well,” said PDEA regional director Joel Plaza in a press statement.
At least P200,000 in cash rewards would be given to individuals who could provide information leading to the recovery of the smuggled illegal drugs to the province, according to the Cagayan information office.
The office said that the provincial government and PDEA had intensified its coast watch to ensure that its coastline was not being used to smuggle illegal drugs. – Rappler.com
John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based fellow and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.