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Eastern Visayas police offers sack of rice as reward for info on drugs washed ashore

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office here has offered to give a sack of rice as a reward to anyone who will give information on illegal drugs that were washed ashore and possibly dropped by foreign vessels.

“The police regional office encourages the public, especially those at the coastal areas of Northern Samar, Samar, and Eastern Samar to be vigilant on this. Anyone who may find this kind of container is obliged to report to the nearest police station,” the PNP said in a statement posted on its social media account.

Some 24 kg. of cocaine worth P125 million and packed in a blue plastic drum washed up on a seashore in Matnog, Sorsogon last Wednesday. Matnog is just more than a hundred kilometers away from Pambujan town in Northern Samar.

However, the police also warned of any attempt to deal, sell or use the drugs.

The PNP suspects the carrier of the cocaine to be a Chinese-registered cargo vessel that made emergency docking in Pambujan last week.

The blue drum was found two days after the crew of Chinese vessel “Jin Ming No. 16” made a distress call on January 2 due to Tropical Depression Agaton while crossing the San Bernadino Strait that separates Samar Island and Luzon Island.

The vessel reportedly loaded with oil, left China on December 12 and was sailing to Chile when they encountered rough seas, according to crew members.

Nine Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese crewmen are under the custody of the local government after they were rescued from their damaged ship.

PNP-Eastern Visayas spokesperson Chief Insp. Ma Bella Rentuaya said the police found the ship suspicious after police regional director Chief Supt. Gilberto Cruz inspected the damaged vessel in Pambujan town on Jan. 5.

“A stateless ghost ship bearing Philippine flag, a standard operating procedure or a deception?” the police regional office asked as they posted photos of Cruz pointing to the vessel anchored 300 meters from shore of Pinadurogan village in Pambujan town.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said that one strategy of drug traders is to drop illegal drugs into the sea to be picked up by fishermen and to be passed into the hands of local drug traffickers. (PNA)