China aid sought on PH probe of P6.4-B shabu shipment

MANILA -- China must be willing to cooperate with the Philippines in investigating the PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment from China that slipped through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), a senator said Tuesday.

Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, made this remark blaming China for the proliferation of illegal drugs in the Philippines which has affected millions of poor Filipino families.

China is 'shabulizing' the country, Gordon told reporters in an interview after the fifth Senate probe into the illegal shipment.

In a previous Senate hearing, Richard Tan (Richard Chan), Chinese owner of the warehouse where the shabu shipment was delivered, testified that he received a call from Xiamen Customs Police about the shipment from China to the Philippines last May 25.

This is a hostile act -- sending drugs here. Sixty percent of the drugs coming here in the Philippines are coming from people of Chinese ancestry, he added.

Gordon said that because the shabu problem allegedly started with China, China should be more than willing to step up and provide necessary legal assistance.

This shabu problem begins with China and will end with China. That is what we must pursue because we have the evidence now, Gordon said.

Gordon said that he has already requested Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to allow his committee to avail of a treaty between the Philippines and China -- the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Criminal Matters.

He said that the request for assistance will be coursed through the Department of Justice (DOJ) by Pimentel.

The treaty provides, among others, mutual assistance in investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses and in proceedings related to criminal matters, Gordon said in his letter to Pimentel.

He explained that his committee wanted to avail of the treaty to obtain relevant information and documents from Chinese authorities who investigated this shipment of illegal drugs to the Philippines.

The senator said that he is meeting officials of the DOJ Tuesday afternoon to firm up the position on what the Philippine government needs from the Chinese government.

He said that if the Chinese government refused to help, then President Rodrigo Duterte ought to review his friendship with China.

Asked if he was expecting Xiamen Customs officials to attend the Senate probe into the illegal shipment, Gordon said that he was not counting on it but certainly needed their cooperation.

I'm trying to make sure that we seriously handle this problem. They must know that we take great offense if they do not do anything about this problem, Gordon said.

Source: Philippine News Agency