Pubdate: Fri, 07 Jan 2005
Source: Businessworld (Philippines)
Copyright: 2005 BusinessWorld
Author: Carmelito Q. Francisco
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


DAVAO CITY -- The business sector is alarmed over the discovery of a shabu 
laboratory and illegal substance warehouses here but expressed confidence 
that the local government and law enforcement authorities are doing their 
best to eradicate the problem.

"This is something that should scare us," said Romeo Serra, Mindanao 
Business Council vice-chairman.

He said this was never expected because the city government and the law 
enforcement agencies have been relentless in their campaigns against 
illegal drugs.

Antonio Santos, Mindanao Business Council chairman, described those behind 
the illegal drug trade as extremely bold because they continued with their 
illegal activities even when Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to run after them.

"I believe Mayor Duterte will really resolve this problem. We are really 
happy that he is forceful [in combating illegal drugs]," Mr. Santos said, 
adding that the problem would never have an effect on the perception of 
Davao City as an investment area. He said the city, unlike other areas in 
Mindanao, including Cotabato City where he is based, has really done 
something to solve the problem.


Mr. Duterte has warned those behind the illegal trade to leave the city, or 
face his wrath. There were allegations that Mr. Duterte was behind the 
existence of a shadowy group tagged as involved in the killing of those 
behind the illegal drug trade, but the mayor denied any involvement.

He said though that the killings would stop only if those behind the 
illegal drug trade would stop their activities, or leave the city.

Last year, Mr. Duterte even warned he will burn to death foreigners who 
will get involved in illegal drug activities in the city. On Tuesday and 
Wednesday, authorities raided two other warehouses where sacks of raw 
materials for shabu manufacturing were seized.


The alleged owner of the place, a certain Carlos Sy, was among the 10 
foreigners earlier arrested by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation 
for their alleged involvement in illegal drugs. Investigators claimed Mr. 
Sy used as front the selling of noodles in his shabu business as hundreds 
of Chinese noodles were also found in the warehouse.

Mr. Sy, however, denied involvement in the illegal business, saying it was 
his cousin, a certain Allan Sy, who owned the place.

Allan Sy was earlier identified as behind the setting up of a shabu 
laboratory in Dumoy, Toril which authorities raided on December 31 that 
resulted in the death of six foreigners.

Supt. Wilkins Villanueva, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency regional 
director, said his office is tracing the whereabouts of 30 Taiwanese and 
Filipinos who might have been involved in the illegal drug trade.

Mr. Villanueva said they were part of the group of Allan Sy, whose 
warehouse in Dumoy was full of equipment used in shabu production. 
Authorities even recovered 76 kilos of shabu during the December 31 raid.

Death Squads

While everyone was concentrating on running after drug lords, the city's 
infamous vigilante group went on a killing spree, downing seven victims 
just five days into the new year, four of them in one day.

This took place while members of the police and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte were 
raiding another factory believed to have been used as laboratory for shabu 

Among those killed in this new killing binge was a 35-year-old polio victim 
whose killers dragged him to a parked jeepney where they peppered him with 

Authorities, however, have yet to establish whether the victims were 
suspects in the proliferation of illegal drugs or the killings were simply 
caused by personal grudges.

The shadowy group, Davao Death Squad, was blamed for the summary executions 
in the city as its members were believed to have killed those who were 
involved in illegal activities particularly selling of illegal drugs.

Critics of Mr. Duterte blamed him for the existence of the group. 
Authorities have not identified nor arrested any suspectedmember. Last 
year, there were 95 victims of the groups whose vigilantism started in 
early 1990s.

Mr. Duterte denied any involvement in these summary executions.

In several pronouncements, Mr. Duterte said the killings would never stop 
until all those involved in illegal activities would either surrender or 
leave the city. At one time, the mayor even read the names of those 
involved in illegal drugs during his Sunday television program over ABS-CBN.

This prompted several of those who were hooked on illegal drugs to 
surrender to the mayor to get rehabilitated. On Wednesday, Mr. Duterte led 
a raiding team composed of members of the police and swooped down on a foam 
factory believed to have been used as front in making shabu. The Polytex 
Davao Industrial Corp, about 23 kilometers north of the city, was the third 
to be raided in six days. The factory was reportedly owned by alleged 
druglord Allan Sy who also owned the other two.

Regional Director Wilkins Villanueva of the Philippine Drug Enforcement 
Agency said the raiding team found 17 barrels toluene, a chemical component 
in making shabu. Since toluene was a regulated chemical, Mr. Villanueva 
said the company should have secured a permit in using it, but the raiding 
team found that it did not have the permit to use it.

The team also found an air filtering equipment at the adjacent factory 
which Mr. Sy also owned. Mr. Villanueva said the air filtering equipment, 
known as air scrubber, was used to capture the smell of shabu while it was 
being processed.

But a chemist of the company, who did not want to be identified, said 
toluene was used in making mattresses. On December 31, authorities raided a 
factory in Dumoy that resulted in the death of six foreigners whose 
identities could not be established. This was followed by the arrest of 10 
others including the cousin of Mr. Sy, a certain Carlos Sy.
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