MANILA - Drug syndicates opt to use the Philippines as a "transshipment" site due to the country's corruptible agencies and "very weak security" along coastlines, the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said Friday.
"'Yung chances of detection and seizure napakababa kung dito nila idadaan sa Pilipinas ang illegal drugs. Napakadali na ma-corrupt nung mga ahensya natin, maliban pa dun sa napaka-open ng coastlines natin," PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said in an interview on DZMM radio.
Aquino said "clandestine drug syndicates" such as the Taiwan-based United Bamboo Gang and the Hong Kong-based 14K group have been in the Philippines since 1980.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently named the syndicates to be behind the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.
Aquino said the lack of modern maritime patrol equipment of the country's law enforcement agencies has also made it easier for drug syndicates to smuggle narcotics into the country.
"Noong umpisa, ipinapasok ng ibang bansa sa ating bansa iyung equipment through sea vessels... Pero there was a series of ops (operations) kaya nadi-dismantle na ang mga drug labs (laboratories) kaya ngayon, finished product na lang ang ipinapasok," he said.
Aquino said authorities should focus on tracking down the source of illegal drugs instead of settling for buy-bust operations that only yield small quantities of narcotics.
"Kahit na mag-focus ang kapulisan sa operasyon na pa-sachet sachet lang ang nakukuha, pero tone-tonelada naman ang pumapasok na droga, parang nagpapagod lang tayo," he said.
In May, authorities busted a P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China in a Valenzuela City warehouse after it slipped past the Manila port. It triggered legislative inquiries on alleged corruption at the Bureau of Customs.