Barbers renews call for composite team to patrol borders, shorelines

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March 9, 2018 – Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers on Friday renewed his call for the creation of a composite unit to patrol the country’s borders and shorelines fin view of President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that cocaine is being smuggled into the country at a fast pace.

Barbers, chair of the House of Representatives’ committee on dangerous drugs, said that based on the results of the committee’s February 28 public hearing, the Philippines had become a transshipment point for illegal drugs because of the porous borders and vast coastlines.

He said drug smugglers resort to dumping their contraband overboard to avoid detection by law enforcers.

“We’ve been assuming that the containers of cocaine found in our shorelines were not intended for the Philippines because we are not a cocaine-consuming country,” Barbers said.

“What if these drug syndicates are trying to infiltrate the shabu market by lowering the price of cocaine? This practice could all be a strategic game-changer with a long-term impact,” he stressed.

“If that’s the case, then the drug market in the country may be shifting from shabu to cocaine—considering that a gram of cocaine now costs less than a gram of shabu.”

Barbers said that at present, the government has no way of determining how many successful cocaine deliveries had been made on the country’s shores, and who or what drug syndicates or cartels were responsible.

The congressman has been pushing for the creation of a composite unit composed of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other law enforcement agencies to patrol the coastlines.

“We must equip our anti-drug agencies with new skills and innovations like appropriating funds for the acquisition of modern surveillance and tracking system,” Barbers said.

“We should find ways to resolve this problem before the country gains notoriety for being a top drug transshipment point in Asia.”#