Tighter border control in the war against drugs

Opinion Sideglance

If the present administration of President Rodrigo Duterte wants to further increase pressure and choke off the entry points of illegal drugs in the country then it must enforce a more stringent measure of patrolling, monitoring and controlling the porous borders of the archipelago.

At the moment the failure of government authorities to intensively observe and monitor our maritime borders has allowed drug smugglers to ferry and dump their contraband right into territorial waters where their cohorts can easily snag these drug packages and off-load them to their distributors in the cities and countryside.

A grim example is the recent incident where at least 120 million pesos worth of cocaine were discovered floating off the waters in Matnog, Sorsogon.

According to police authorities in the province their initial investigation disclosed that the cocaine which was contained in a plastic container and wrapped in packaging tape might have been thrown overboard from a ship and floated to the shore during low-tide. It was also speculated by the authorities that the said container of drugs might have been thrown off a ship to avoid the patrols of maritime police or simply carried by someone in a ship and then later thrown overboard.

Whatever the conjectures are as to the history of the said illegal drug package before their discovery they remain within the realm of speculation without any further evidence or proof, but what is evident is the fact that such kind of illegal drugs can simply be discovered floating in the territorial waters of the country.

With this incident the government must re-orient its resources and efforts towards acquiring more naval vessels and facilities that can effectively oversee the strict monitoring of our maritime borders. A possible suggestion would be the creation of a multi-organizational maritime drug interdiction task force comprising personnel and officers from the Philippine Navy, Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, representatives and agents from the Department of the Interior and Local Government and representatives from the local government unit concerned. The functions of the task force would be multipronged with one aspect directly coordinating and aligning its efforts with active maritime border patrols of neighboring countries such as Vietnam, China, Malaysia and even Taiwan. Another aspect of its operations would be direct intervention by elements of the task force against drug smugglers using the country’s sea lanes and territorial waters and with shoot to disable or kill on sight ( if the perpetrators are armed and violently resist arrest) orders. Still another function of the said task force is to coordinate efforts in gathering massive information and data using Human Intelligence (HUMINT) sources to track the flow of illegal drugs that are inserted into the country via maritime borders, right up to the moment when it is given to the street dealers for sale.

By looking into such patters of drug distribution via the seas and maritime borders the task force would be in a position to proactively repel any such attempt to float drugs for pick-up or smuggle them via our maritime borders.

Of course if the said task force is to be created it would be a massive undertaking by the government along with large expenditures but there is really a need to double efforts to stop the entry of illegal drugs through our porous borders and prevent another 120 million peso worth of cocaine from reaching our country.