Philippines says PLA officers smuggle drugs

MANILA, Reuters

The Philippines’ national security adviser said on Wednesday mainland China was the biggest source of illegal drugs and that People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers were involved in narcotics trafficking.

Roilo Golez, a senior aide to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said some Philippine police and military men were also involved in drugs.

Golez said the drugs trade in the Philippines was worth 260 billion pesos (US$5.31 billion) a year and about 95 percent of the drugs, mostly the stimulant methamphetamine hydrochloride, or “ice,” came from mainland China.

“The information we got is that some moonlighting PLA officers are the ones running the manufacturing plants in four or five coastal provinces of China,” Golez told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

Asked what the supposed involvement of PLA men was, Golez said:”Manufacturing and trafficking.”

Golez said he got his information from Philippine drug enforcement agencies. Of about 280 drugs syndicates operating in the Philippines, more than 50 of them had links with the Philippine military and the police, he said.

Golez said 1.7 million Filipinos were victims of illegal drugs, making the problem the country’s biggest security threat.

Manila had raised the drug-smuggling problem with Beijing two years ago and Beijing pledged to take action “to show that they are good neighbors.”

Golez was chairman of the House committee on security and public order before Arroyo took him into her Cabinet last month to serve as adviser on national security.

He said a government mission went to Beijing last year to brief the mainland authorities on the problem and he believed Arroyo also raised the matter with mainland China when she visited two years ago when she was still vice-president.”They…assured the Philippine government that they do not tolerate this,” he said. “Probably they have some problems also controlling their own people.”

Golez expressed hope Beijing would curb the flow of drugs to the Philippines, saying a 50 percent cut in the smuggling of drugs would halve the narcotics problem.

He said drugs were normally smuggled in by sea.

“They are brought by fishing vessels, by big ships, then jettisoned in the high seas, then picked up by smaller fishing vessels and from there they would go by a thousand different directions,” Golez said.

Drugs trafficking is among so-called “heinous crimes” punishable by death in the Philippines.