Barrel of cocaine found by fisherman in the Philippines

A plastic drum containing 25 one-kilo bricks of cocaine (about 53 pounds) — with an estimated street value of 125 million pesos ($2.5 million / 2.07 million euros) — was found floating in the ocean off of the coast of the Philippines by a fisherman from the village of Matnog on Wednesday.

The man had no idea what was in the barrel at the time he notified authorities, said Christian Frivaldo, a regional director at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Read more: President Rodrigo Duterte orders police to rejoin Philippines’ war on drugs

Fell off a ship?

Authorities are uncertain where the cocaine came from, but suspect that it may have fallen off of or been thrown from a Taiwanese-flagged cargo ship that was forced to make an emergency docking nearby after being damaged by heavy waves. The nine-man crew of the vessel, consisting of Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese nationals, is currently being held in police custody as authorities search the half-submerged ship for evidence.

Read more: Filipinos dropping support for drug war after teenager’s killing

Violent war on drugs

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared war on drug traffickers and users in the country upon entering office in 2016. Since then, thousands of Filipinos have been killed in police raids and extrajudicial killings purportedly carried out by government forces and perhaps even hired killers. Human rights groups have decried the approach, accusing the president of perpetrating crimes against humanity.

Read more: Why Duterte won’t be prosecuted for crimes against humanity

Family business

Duterte, this week, accepted the resignation of his eldest son Paolo, as vice mayor of Davao City. The president’s son has faced repeated accusations of being involved in the large-scale import of methamphetamines into the Philippines as part of a syndicate at the Bureau of Customs. Paolo Duterte was questioned about the accusations by the Philippines Senate in September alongside his brother-in-law Manases Carpio. Both men denied the accusations. Carpio’s wife Sara is the mayor of Davao City, an office she took over after the city’s previous mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, became president.            

js/rc (AFP, dpa)