TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: Governor Manuel Mamba accused some local officials of being protectors of international drug syndicates and blamed them for the drug problem in the province.
Mamba, a former representative of the third district of Cagayan, said one of the biggest drug busts carried out in the region yielded about P1 billion worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) in Claveria town is only the tip of the iceberg.
The governor pointed out that the illegal drug trade has festered because local officials had no resolved to run after the syndicate operating here.
He said the coastal towns in Cagayan have been used as drop-off points of drugs coming from China or Taiwan.
He identified the towns of Claveria, Abulog, Ballesteros, Lasam and Pamplona in the second district, where illegal drug activities are rampant.
Recently, operatives of various government agencies of Regions 1 and 2 hauled some 210 kilos of shabu in two separate incidents in Claveria. The provincial police office here said it is possible that the drugs could have been smuggled from mainland China or Taiwan.
On June 24, a barangay chairman – Marzan Victor Tumaneng of Barangay Centro 4 and his three accomplices – were arrested with 30 kilograms of shabu they negotiated with a poseur-buyer for P150 million in Barangay Culao, Claveria town.
A follow up operation led to the recovery of at least 180 kilograms of shabu worth P900 million purposely buried in a resort where Tumaneng was arrested.
In March last year, a shabu laboratory was raided and yielded a stash of liquid shabu with a street value estimated at P1.9 billion. Police said the laboratory could produce a ton of shabu daily.
Mamba said these two incidents in the coastal town of Claveria placed the province in the map of illegal drugs.
“I believe that big time protectors who are politicians are behind these illegal drug trade in the province. These drug people are kingmakers who could manipulate election results in Claveria,” Mamba said.
He said Tumaneng’s strategic role in Claveria during elections could be clearly seen, as whoever he supports usually wins.
Known to be the man behind every successful candidate in Claveria, Tumaneng was also tagged as the leading drug lord there.
Meanwhile, authorities said they are looking at other coastal towns in Cagayan province being used as transshipment points of illegal drugs using foreigners camouflaging as fishermen.
In May, 18 Vietnamese in three fishing boats and 10 Chinese were apprehended for illegal poaching off Cagayan and Batanes provinces on separate occasions.
The 10 Chinese paid a fine of over P9 million for poaching, while the 18 Vietnamese reportedly escaped from detention using one of their fishing boats as a getaway vehicle.