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Defense chief unaware of source of Duterte info on Chinese triads

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that neither the country's intelligence agencies nor he was aware of the source of information of President Rodrigo Duterte in saying that the country was now a transshipment point for drugs bound for the US. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando, File

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is unaware of the source of information that President Rodrigo Duterte used in declaring that the country is already being used by syndicates as a transshipment point for narcotics destined for the American market.

On Tuesday night, Duterte said that two international syndicates were behind the proliferation of illegal drugs in the Philippines and called for a closer cooperation between Manila and Washington to combat their drug problems.

Duterte said the Bamboo triad of Taiwan and 14K of Hong Kong were shipping their drugs to Manila before sending them to the US.

"I said we are in trouble. This is the first time I would reveal it because we’re talking about the Constitution and the interest of our country and of course the Bill of Rights and due process," Duterte said in another rambling, desultory and long-winding speech during the 56th anniversary of the Philippine Constitution Association in Manila.

Beijing and Taipei, however, have denied being the source of drugs in the Philippines.

When asked about the president's source of information and if it has already been verified by the country's intelligence services, Lorenzana said that he was not "privy" to the information.

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"Noon ko rin lang narinig yan from the president," he told Philstar.com in a text message, adding that the queries should be directed at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency or the Dangerous Drugs Board.

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According to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Taiwan has been working with the Philippines in its fight against illegal drugs for years.

"Taiwan had never been the source of illegal drugs entering the country," the TECO said in a statement.

The Chinese Embassy meanwhile admitted that some of their nationals may be involved in the trade of illegal drugs in the Philippines although it clarified that the policy of its government had been consistently firm.

"We do not know much about the syndicates or the drug rings that are operating in the Philippines. China will not protect its nationals who have committed crimes in the Philippines. They need to be punished in accordance with Filipino law," Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua vowed.

In May, P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs from China were discovered in a warehouse in Valenzuela City. This prompted congressional investigations into how such a huge amount of illegal drugs was able to escape Manila's port.

Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, the president's son, and Mans Carpio, the son-in-law of the chief executive, are accused of abetting smuggling and drug trafficking at the Bureau of Customs.

The inquiry and the explosive revelations have already led to the resignation of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, who is also alleged to have received millions in bribe payments.

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