MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said China should not be blamed for the illegal drugs entering the Philippines.
"Now, I’d like to tell you now, kinuha na ng 'Bamboo Triad', ngayon it’s being run. (The) China government has nothing to do with it. The Chinese people have nothing to do with it," Duterte said in a speech at the 116th anniversary of the Balangiga incident in Eastern Samar.
"It’s the gangsters of the Philippines and China combined—they combined together and making the life of the Filipinos miserable," he added.
Duterte has tagged the 14K and "Bamboo Triad", which are based in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as among groups allegedly behind the proliferation of illegal drugs in the Philippines.
“Itong drugs ngayon is being operated by the 14K, 'Bamboo Triad.' They have taken over. They are cooking the shabu in the high seas. Tapos itatapon [sa dagat]. Kita mo sa Region 1, maraming mga bins na empty, may Chinese character. It’s actually Taiwan and lahat na,” Duterte said in a speech at the 120th anniversary of the Department of Justice.
In another speech during the 56th Anniversary of the Philippine Constitution Association, Duterte said the Philippines has become a “client state” of the "Bamboo Triad".
Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, however said in a tweet on Tuesday that there is no "Bamboo Triad."
"It’s either Bamboo Gang of Taiwan or the Hong Kong Triad, also known as 14K," he said.
On Monday, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Manila denied being a source of illegal drugs in the Philippines, saying it would continue working closely with Philippine authorities to fight the narcotics trade.
In May, P6.4 billion worth of shabu from mainland China was discovered in a warehouse in Valenzuela after it slipped past through the port of Manila allegedly through the help of corrupt Customs officials.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) spokesman Derrick Carreon also said in December that mainland China is the origin of most meth in the Philippines.
“It’s safe to say that the majority of the meth we have comes from China,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Of 77 foreign nationals arrested for meth-related drug offenses between January 2015 and mid-August 2016, nearly two-thirds were Chinese and almost a quarter were Taiwanese or Hong Kong residents, according to the PDEA. - with reports from Reuters