By Julius D. Mariveles and DNX Daybreak Team
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Four out of five villages here included in the top tier of barangays with the biggest suspected shabu seizures are located by the coastline.
“These coastlines have already been porous for the longest time even before the Duterte government started its anti-drug campaign,” local police spokesman Lt. Col. Ariel Pico told DNX.
Bacolod, a coastal city facing the Guimaras Strait, has at least 15 kilometers of coastlines running from the village of Banago in the north to Punta Taytay in the south.
City Hall has identified 13 of 61 of these as coastal – 1, 2, 6, 8, 13, 14, 16, 35, Singcang-Airport, Tangub, Pahanocoy, Banago, and Punta Taytay.
Of these 13, four are in the top five villages with the biggest volume of suspected shabu seizures – 1, 2, Banago, and Singcang Airport.
Only Alijis, a village on the eastern side here, is not located by the coastline.
The Philippine Statistics Authority has identified Banago and Singcang-Airport as among the most populous villages based on the 2015 population census.
Singcang is ranked sixth, its population comprising at least six percent of the more than half a million residents while Banago is eighth with a five percent share.
While only Banago has a private port owned and operated by the Negros Navigation Company, its shorelines are open too to docking by bancas and small ships.
Banago and Singcang-Airport also have a significant number of subsistence fishermen who have made the seas their source of livelihood.
THE SEA AND SHABU
Pico said these open coastlines can be a boon for the transport of drugs.
He did not elaborate, however, when asked who is smuggling in contraband, including illegal drugs but added the assets of the Coast Guard and the PNP’s Maritime Command might be simply too few to monitor these activities.
Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, on the other hand, said the huge volume of suspected shabu recovered here may mean two things: that the security measures implemented in the entry points in the city may be too lax; or there is really a big demand of illegal drugs in Bacolod and other neighboring cities, towns and municipalities.
The vice mayor said the security measures in the entry points of Bacolod must be tightened and the source of the illegal drugs must be known.
Intelligence operatives told DNX an open coastline can provide entry points for the trans-shipment of drugs. (READ: Part 1 – Fighting a shadow, battling ghouls)