Pubdate: Mon, 14 Mar 2005
Source: Businessworld (Philippines)
Copyright: 2005 BusinessWorld
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The Philippines is Asia's major producer of shabu (crystal
methamphetamine) and serves as transhipment point for China- and
Taiwan-based syndicates' export of the drug to Australia, Canada,
Japan, Korea, the United States and Saipan, the US State department
said yesterday.

In its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2005 released
this month, the US State department however noted that the country's
law enforcement has shifted its resources in going after major drug
traffickers and large clandestine drug labs rather than users and
low-level dealers.

"The Philippines continues to be a major producer of crystal
methamphetamine. Domestic production of crystal methamphetamine,
locally known as 'shabu', exceeds demand, with most of the precursor
chemicals smuggled into, or illegally diverted after importation into
the Philippines from the People's Republic of China, including Hong
Kong," the report said.

Local authorities have dismantled 11 clandestine shabu labs last year,
including a "mega-lab" in Cebu where 11 ethnic Chinese were arrested
and 498 kilograms of chlorephedrine and 80 gallons of liquid
metamphetamine were seized. The raid, done in September, was the
"largest" in Philippine history, the report said.

"The raid and arrests highlighted the Philippine's transition into a
major methamphetamine producer and the role of transnational criminal
group in production," the State department noted.

The total amount of shabu seizures for the year 2004 was pegged at
some 756 kgs with an estimated value of $27 million.

The report also noted that Philippines continues to produce marijuana
for export to Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and Europe. The
proceeds of which help finance terrorist activities, it added.

"Evidence indicates some links between terrorist organizations and
drug trafficking...Marijuana cultivation is generally in areas
inaccessible to vehicles and are controlled by insurgent groups," the
State department said.

There are at least 98 marijuana cultivation sites spread across the
country, the largest of which are in the Northern Luzon, a New
People's Army-infested area, and in Central Visayas and several parts
of Mindanao where the local bandit Abu Sayyaf Group and the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front operate.

Rampant corruption and Philippine laws regarding electronic
surveillance and bank secrecy regulations, the report noted, have
hampered investigation and prosecution of narcotics cases in the country. 
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