A FISHING vessel believed to have been used as a laboratory to manufacture and transport methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) was seized off Subic Bay in Zambales on Monday night. The four Chinese on board were arrested.
Supt. Enrico Rigor, spokesman of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP), identified the arrested foreigners as Wing Fai Lo, 42; Shu Folk Leung, 49; Kam Wah Kwok, 47; and Kwok Tung Chan, 29, all Hong Kong residents.
Authorities said the Chinese, believed to be chemists, arrived in the country by plane and were ferried to the boat that was anchored about two kilometers away from the shoreline.
A hydro-generator set capable of manufacturing 50 kilos of shabu in a single cycle was found inside the vessel.
About half a kilo of shabu estimated to be worth P2.5 million was also seized during the search of the fishing vessel, which had Chinese markings and had no documents.
The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said it was not aware of the vessel’s presence.
Rigor said in a news conference that the materials used to manufacture shabu were imported into the country and cooked inside the vessel. The drugs were then picked up from the ship in connivance with some local fishermen.
The 50-meter fishing vessel was also used for the distribution of illegal drugs in Luzon, particularly to the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Pangasinan and Subic.
The movement of the fishing vessel from Hong Kong was monitored since it entered the country and docked in Cagayan, then sailed to Ilocos and later to Pangasinan until it arrived in Subic Bay, authorities said.
Residents of Sitio Agusuhin in Barangay (village) Cawag in Zambales told The Manila Times the floating shabu laboratory has been anchored at Subic Bay since the second week of May this year, with two basnig (small fishing boat) towing it.
They said the Filipino boat crew stayed in a rented cottage in a resort near the area.
The vessel has been moving from one location to another a few times since it arrived, and many people have been seen coming in and out, they added. Some rode jet skis.
It was the second time the floating shabu laboratory was reported seen in the country, the first being in 2013.
In August 2013, police anti-narcotics operatives arrested six suspects and seized about 400 kilos of shabu worth P2 billion, in a rented house in Sta. Monica Subdivision in Subic.
In May and June 2008, the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group based in Subic Bay Freeport seized more than 750 kilograms of high-grade shabu, valued at P5.5 billion, brought into the country using two super-high speed boats from Vietnam and Taiwan.
Mike Macapagal, president of Olongapo-Zambales PDP Laban, said the interception of the floating shabu laboratory has confirmed their worst fears.
“We have suspected it all along that illegal drugs are smuggled regularly into the country through the coast of Zambales, particularly SBMA, Olongapo City, and the Municipality of Subic. We have become the transhipment port for this scourge of mankind. And I am sorry to say, this is a clear indictment of government officials in the province,” he said in a statement.
“We can only thank God for giving us President Rodrigo Duterte. His uncompromising fight against all forms of criminality is paying off, for the province and for the whole country. We were on the verge of becoming a narco-state. A few more years, and our destruction as a people would be complete. He came just in time to save us from drug manufacturers, dealers, and pushers. I join my fellow Zambaleños in commending Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and the revitalized PNP for this accomplishment,” he added.
WITH FROILAN E. MAGTOTO