Arroyo creates unit to hunt ‘drug kingpins’
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:20:00 03/19/2009
MANILA, Philippines – Angered by the failure of law enforcement agencies to arrest an alleged drug kingpin and five of his cohorts, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has formed an interagency task force to hunt down the suspects, Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Vicente Sotto III said Thursday.
“The order of the President is [for an] intensified manhunt not only in the Philippines but with some regional and international cooperation,” Sotto said at a news conference after a meeting of law enforcement agencies Arroyo called at the Palace.
The target of the manhunt are Anthony Ang, alleged owner of a P5-billion shipment of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu that was seized at the Subic Freeport in 2008, his wife Estrella Ang, his driver Rolando Labandelo, and alleged associates Enrique Ong, Harry Yao, and Robert Lee, Sotto said.
The task force will be composed of representatives from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG), Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID), Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP-AIDSOTF), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), he said.
Only Labandelo and Lee remain in the country. Ang and the others have fled to other countries, reportedly Taiwan and China, the DDB chairman said.
“The President got angry because these suspects have not been arrested. She asked for an update on their whereabouts but there was no clear answer from the different agencies,” he said.
“She also asked if the agencies coordinated, the answer was, ‘No,’ that’s why she was forced to take action,” he added.
Sotto said Arroyo also ordered the DDB to study ways to strengthen the capability of law enforcers to detect shabu, which, when vacuum-packed, is not easily detected by trained dogs.
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