‘Cocaine cargo ship’ found in Philippines not flying Taiwan flag: envoy

Taiwan's representative said the crackdown on illegal drugs will continue

(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) –Taiwan's representative to the Philippines Gary Lin (林松煥) said at a local press event Monday that the cocaine recently found in the eastern Philippines did not come from a Taiwan-flagged cargo vessel, as had been reported by the Philippines media.

US$2.5 million worth of cocaine bricks packed in plastic for a total weight of 24 kilograms were found on Jan. 3, 2018, on the seashore in Matnog, a coastal town in the eastern Philippines.

A regional director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency was quoted by AFP as saying that the source of the cocaine may have been a Taiwan-flagged cargo vessel that was hit by huge waves off the eastern Philippines a day before the cocaine bricks were found.

The official added that nine Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese crewmen are under the custody and investigation after they were rescued from their damaged vessel, the reports say.

The Taiwanese representative said that the alleged cargo vessel, named Jin Ming 16, is not flying a Taiwan flag and there is no registration record of the vessel in the country. Also, Taiwan does not cultivate the type of the cocaine found in Matnog as the climate is not suitable for its growth, Lin added.

As for the identity of the crewmen held under custody, Lin said one of them is a Taiwanese surnamed Chen, while the ship's documentation presented by the captain which indicates the flag state as Taiwan, has turned out to be false.

The rescued crewmen are said to have denied the illegal drugs came from their vessel.

Lin reiterated that both countries have busted several drug rings and dealers in joint anti-drug actions over the past three years and will continue the joint government crackdown on illegal drugs.